Pray Like Jesus
The Prayer That Opens Heaven
This very first prayer of Jesus was interrupted by the heavens being split open. We want to learn to pray like that. We want the Holy Spirit’s power unleashed through our prayers.
The heavens are split, torn apart. The verb in Mark 1:10 is schizo. It is passive in that Mark did not do this. We are not told who tore apart the heavens that day, just that they were opened or ripped. The word in Luke is “opened,” a less dramatic word, but still communicating the idea that the heavens are split apart.
The Holy Spirit descended upon him from the opened heavens.
How did they know that Jesus was praying as he emerged from the water? Was he speaking out loud? Were his hands folded or high in the air? Was he on his knees on the banks of the Jordan?
Prayer involves supplication. Jesus was asking the Father for something in his prayer, as was his practice.
This is the first time that the Bible records that Jesus prayed. I am sure he prayed before this, but this was a very significant moment of prayer for him.
Acknowledge with Prayer:
“In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:6).
The NIV translates “acknowledge” by “submit.” Hebrew is yada: in all your ways perceive him, show him, know him.
How about own Him. The Jews “disowned the Holy and Righteous One,” said Peter in his second sermon (Acts 3:14).
- Jesus is owning the Father in Heaven with his prayer. This may or may not be his main purpose. The crowd is watching, including John the Baptist. Jesus is dripping wet as he emerges from the waters of baptism.
- Jesus may have been praying out loud or he may be having a private moment of prayer. The words of his prayer are not recorded for us. In any case, the effect of his prayer was to alert the entire crowd, which I am sure was very large, to his connection and with and submission to the Father in heaven.
Sometimes you see an athlete doing this in a very public moment when all eyes are upon him. In fact, Cam Newton said a prayer before he started the Superbowl. The commentators said it was his practice to do so. Beats By Dre released a commercial before the Superbowl called Cam’s Prayer: “Dear God, people say you should be yourself, but they never considered me. I know you molded me different. You placed purpose on my shoulders. So now I come to you. Give me the strength to finish this, my way.”
- Sometimes the athlete’s prayer is more superstition than submission. Superstition differs from prayer in this way: prayer is submission to God. Superstition is manipulating God, an effort to force him to do something through your religious ritual.
Open Heaven with Prayer. We can acknowledge God in our public moments in a variety of ways. Prayer is one of the most powerful. A moment of prayer turns all heads toward heaven. Those who believe in God understand well. Those who don’t believe understand enough.
- When you pray before a meal, you open heaven.
- When you pray before a big event, you open heaven.
Confirm with Prayer:
“You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well-pleased” (Luke 3:22).
Jesus heard back from the Father. Prayer is not only you talking to God. Even more so, it is God talking to you. In this instance, we all know what the Father chose to say to Jesus.
The Father confirmed for the Son that he was the beloved of the Father.
- Every son and daughter want to hear this confirmation. For some, they work to hear these words all their lives.
- The Father said this out loud to his Son. And fathers and mothers everywhere should hear this and know what a good thing it is to tell your children that they are your beloved ones.
The Father confirmed that he was well-pleased with his Son: “with you I am well pleased.”
- Jesus got a “thumbs-up” from the Father.
- Every child longs to hear this kind of affirmation from their parents. It is a golden moment for Jesus and for us.
God the Father already knew what he was going to do when Jesus was baptized. This moment had been planned from the beginning of time. He was going to send the Holy Spirit upon His Only Son in this moment. The visible sign of the dove would confirm for John the Baptist who Jesus was.
Jesus also knew as a man how important and strategic this moment was for him and his mission on this earth. He wanted to confirm in Prayer what he already knew was about to take place. The confirmation itself is important.
Jesus is confirming his complete obedience and submission to the Father’s will and purpose.
You declare in Prayer what you know to be the Father’s will and Purpose and Plan.
Initiate with Prayer:
Open Heaven on the Front End
Jesus is about to begin his public ministry. He is baptized in order to initiate that ministry.
- Jesus has a great sense of timing. He knows what he is doing. He has been waiting for this moment.
- I am sure that some were urging him to go forward before this moment in his life. But he waited until he was baptized.
- Now he will be in the public eye until he is hung up to die.
Part of this initiation is making sure that John the Baptist understands and is convinced about who Jesus is.
- John is the most prominent preacher in Israel at this time.
- John is the voice crying in the wilderness, “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.’” (John 1:23). John is God’s designated ambassador to prepare the way for the Promised One.
- John the Baptist was baptizing people in order that the Messiah might be revealed to Israel (John 1:31).
- The descent of the Spirit upon Jesus is the evidence John was looking for. The visible sign of the dove was important. John was convinced that Jesus was the Christ based on what happened in that moment after Jesus’ baptism. “I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:33-34).
- In Matthew 3:17, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well-pleased.” It is in the third person, like an announcement, instead of the second person addressed to only the Son. The announcement may have been specific to John.
- John’s testimony about Jesus, “Look, the Lamb of God!,” will bring to Jesus his first disciples. Andrew is one of those men. The first thing he did was to fetch his brother, Peter.
The beginning of anything is a great moment of opportunity. Bathe it in prayer. Consider the beginning of a trip, your first day at college or high school or middle school, your first day on the new job, as a moment to capture in prayer. Watch for signs of God working in those around you.
Empower with Prayer:
“You shall receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8).
Jesus is empowered by the Holy Spirit for the ministry which is before him.
- He is empowered by the Holy Spirit for the immediate temptation from the devil that will come upon him.
- His ability to say no to the devil is connected directly to be “full of the Holy Spirit.”
The upper room crowd prayed until the Holy Spirit fell upon them.
You are empowered by the Holy Spirit for your service to God. You access that power for the immediate task before you through prayer. Your prayer can be very simple: “Father God, fill me with your Holy Spirit as I face this test.” Then have faith that God has answered your prayer. Do not let your faith flag or fail because you lack some emotion you think should accompany the filling of the Spirit. Operate in faith concerning the Spirit, and you will see and know the Spirit’s power for the task at hand.