It was very early in the morning and still dark. Jesus got up and left the house. He went to a place where he could be alone. There he prayed. (Mk 1:35, NIRV)
Jesus life and teaching underscores the importance prayer. See Mt 6:9-13, Mt 7:7-11, Mt 14:23, Mt 26:41, Mt 21:13, Mk 1:35, Lk 5:16, Lk 6:12, Lk 9:18, Lk 9:28-29, Lk 11:1, Lk 18:1, Lk 22:31-32, Lk 22:40-41, Mt 7:7 and Heb 5:7.
Abraham prayed. Rachael prayer. Moses prayed. Joseph prayed. Joshua prayed. Elijah prayed. Elisha prayed. Gideon prayed. Hannah prayed. Samuel prayed. David prayed. Mary prayed. Jesus’ disciples prayed. Paul prayed. Given this Prayer Hall of Fame, I should make prayer my priority and respect its power, impact and insight.
Jesus was 100% man. Arguably, His habit of praying speaks more to his humanity that any other aspect of his life. Somehow, despite His tiredness and scheduling difficulties, Jesus found time to connect with His Father (who is also my Father). Jesus used prayer to re-focus priorities and maintain physical and spiritual balance. Jesus tapped into the power of prayer to prepare for each day’s physical and spiritual conflict. In Caesarea Philippi, for example, the demon expelled from the young boy could only be cast-out by prayer and fasting. Note: Jesus arrived on the scene with a ready-reserve of prayer power! Make no mistake that Jesus, the man, was prayed-up and ready for spiritual battle.
Jesus, the man, found ways to prioritize his days and harness the power of prayer. Certainly, my day cannot compare to one of His! Perhaps, instead of asking Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Lk 11:1-4), I should ask Jesus, “Lord, teach me to prioritize prayer”.
I need to kick-up my game! I need to train myself to see prayer as critical to the eternal battles, seen and unseen, waged around me. Unlike Jesus, I choose to manage my own affairs … and, most of the time, give God the day-off! Do moments of excitement and joy bubble over in conversation with my heavenly Father? Strike #1! What about anguish, heartache, doubts and fears? Strike #2! Do I listen, in prayer, as often as I speak? Strike #3! Moving forward: I need to prioritize time with my Father. I should talk to my Father regularly, listen sensitively, follow His direction consistently?
Richard Foster, in his book Celebration of Discipline, wrote, “The most difficult problem is not finding time but convincing myself that it is important enough to set aside the time.” Richard is right! My prayers should respect the privilege and power of prayer. His power impacts the life that I see … and the life unseen. Prayer is NOT passive!
“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (Js 5:16, ISV) In other words, “Tremendous power is made available through a good man’s earnest prayer.” (Js 5:16, JB Phillips) Moving forward: Pray with tremendous power, regularly and effectively. Kick-up my game!