When you read the gospels, one of the things that stands out in the life of Jesus is how much of His time He spent in prayer. This is interesting, because you might at first think that Jesus doesn’t “need” prayer as much as the rest of us do.
Indeed, that’s usually the angle that preachers will take on Sundays with this fact. They’ll say things like, “Folks, it’s my job and I’m here to tell you, I need more prayer in my life. If the Son of God could make time to do it, so can we. Our responsibilities aren’t more important than what He was doing.”
That’s all fine and good–literally–but I think it might give the impression that Jesus was praying out of a sense of duty, and that it was just one more thing He had to add into His list of “Things to Do Before I Die.” (I hope that is funny and not blasphemous for my religious readers. God picked the Jews as His chosen people, so I think He appreciates comedy.)
In the present post, I want to make the simple claim that I think Jesus was only able to achieve His amazing feats because of His intense prayer life. For example, I think He “needed” to pray all night before knowing which men to choose as His inner circle. I think it bolstered Him and made Him believe that He really was the Son of God, to hear a voice from heaven declare as such when He was baptized. And I think He needed an angel to minister to Him before facing His excruciating task on Good Friday.
Now when I say “need” in this context, of course I don’t mean that there was no other way. With God all things are possible. What I mean is that God wanted His son to live among us a mortal man. So for example, I think that the young Jesus was actually learning from the scribes in the Temple. I don’t think He knew as much at age 12 as he would at age 31.
In that context, I think Jesus’ mind and body would have been overwhelmed if, say, He literally went around doing nothing but heal the sick and preach every waking moment. His faith would not have been as strong (necessary for Him to raise people from the dead) and His sermons would not have been as profound.
As a Christian I am supposed to make prayer an important part of my life. This isn’t a senseless rule imposed on me “just because,” but rather (I believe) a habit that is designed for my own good, both in this life and the next.