When we look closely at how Jesus’ prayer life is depicted in Luke, we discover how essential prayer is for us.
Alongside Jesus’ astonishing miracles and teachings, the Gospels depict something just as compelling: Jesus—who is himself fully God—prayed. In fact, he prayed a lot. Luke, the go-to
Gospel for a theology of prayer, includes more descriptions of Jesus’ own prayer habits than any other Gospel. When we look closely at how Jesus’ prayer life is depicted in Luke, we discover how essential prayer is for the life of faith and our participation in God’s kingdom.
Jesus’ Baptism Prayer (Luke 3:21–22)
For Luke, this isn’t just a story about Jesus’ baptism; it is a story about the power of prayer. Jesus’ baptism prayer launches his ministry, initiating his anointing, commissioning, and empowerment for ministry. Luke replaces the phrases about Jesus coming up out of the water in Matthew and Mark with “and was praying” (3:21, NRSV throughout), making the prayer and not the baptism itself the point of focus.
Immediately, we see Jesus’ prayers inviting God to act. God speaks from heaven, anointing Jesus for ministry. Jesus’ prayer initiates the arrival of the Spirit, who descends on Jesus “in bodily form” (3:22), granted for the fulfillment of Jesus’ mission. Luke goes on to describe Jesus as “full of the Holy Spirit” (4:1) and “filled with the power of the Spirit” (4:14). In 4:18, Jesus announces, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me” and interprets his ministry as a fulfillment of the Scriptures.
Luke draws a vital connection between Jesus’ faithfulness in prayer and the inauguration of and empowerment for his earthly ministry. If we want to be used by God for God’s kingdom work, the …