“In the days of His flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death. He was heard because of His godly fear” (Heb. 5:7).
We don’t often hear the specifics of Jesus’ prayer life when He went off by Himself to quiet, secluded places to seek the face of the Father. We see multiple occasions in Scripture that allude to how He connected to God, and we know from Jesus’ own admission that He never did anything apart from the Father: “Jesus gave them this answer: ‘Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does” (John 5:19). He was intimately linked to the heart of God. Yet, the author of Hebrews gives us a profound insight into the powerfully intimate nature of our Savior’s prayer life.
Let’s break down this verse and examine it for insights into how we can follow the example of prayer that Jesus clearly intended us to step into as His followers:
“In the days of His flesh …”—Jesus clearly sought the face of God throughout each day of His life. He didn’t have a quiet time silo within which he dealt with all of the things upon His heart. Instead, this conversation was characterized by continual connectivity. Jesus certainly prayed without ceasing. I can imagine that in His humanness, he felt inadequate and uncertain without being closely aligned with the purposes of God within each and every encounter He made with the people God had sent Him to redeem.
“… Jesus offered up prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears …”—A very clear picture of such praying in Scripture is when Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane: “And being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly. And His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44). We don’t see much of this kind of praying these days in our nation; however, in other nations around the world, especially in places of extreme poverty and persecution, God’s people cry out passionately to Him. Perhaps we are not hungry enough for more of God in our lives and not desperate enough to cry out as Jesus did! What must we do to cultivate such a depth of passion within our own prayer lives before the circumstances of our dire situation closes in on us and forces us to fall upon our faces before our Holy God?
“… to Him who was able to save Him from death.”—The One who saves all of His children from spiritual death did not save His Son from the cross, because to do so would have negated His ultimate purposes. Jesus, in His humanness, desired to be rescued from the painfully gruesome death He was facing. However, in His divinity, He willingly laid down His life for the glorious plan of the Father—the Resurrection that redeemed all believers for all time. Are we, His children, willing to surrender what we want or what is comfortable for the kingdom purposes of God as Jesus so obediently did—even if it could mean physical death?
“He was heard because of His godly fear.”—How often do we desire to do things our own way, or feel entitled to say whatever we want? How unlike Jesus that is, and perhaps this is the very reason so little prayer is answered with the approving stamp of God upon our requests and intercessions. We are not reverently submitted to our Father. Jesus sought His Father’s face with humility and reverence, fully yielded, completely surrendered and obedient.
I long to approach the throne of grace with Christlikeness. So, as I continue to ponder and wrestle with the practice of prayer, I am going to imagine myself holding the hand of the One I love most as we walk into the throne room together.
Lord Jesus, teach me to offer up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the One who has saved me from spiritual death. Show me what it means to submit myself reverently before the Father so that I may be heard. It’s in Your Name I ask this! Amen!
Kim Butts is the co-founder of Harvest Prayer Ministries and the author of The Praying Family. © 2015 Harvest Prayer Ministries.