MANY, if not all, of us, have so-called valid excuses for not praying. School work—upcoming exams, group works, research meetings—would probably top the list. Stress would be second.
I have my excuses, too. But when I reexamine them, I wonder: are these excuses valid? You see, Jesus was a busy man. And yet He always took the time to pray.
The gospel of Mark details the Lord Jesus' earthly ministry. Chapter One begins with a prelude: John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus. John baptizes Jesus. Satan tempts Jesus in the wilderness. After emerging victorious from that episode, Jesus begins His Galilean ministry.
He calls—recruits—His disciples: Simon and Andrew, then James and John.
They all go to Capernaum. They probably walked under the blazing heat of the sun. There Jesus enters the synagogue and teaches. People are astonished. He has authority. Inside they see a man possessed by an unclean spirit. Jesus rebukes the unclean spirit, and it goes out of the man.
As soon as they go out of the synagogue, Jesus goes to Peter and Andrew's home, and does clinic duties: He heals Peter's mother-in-law.
In the evening, people start bringing the sick and demon-possessed. The whole city is gathered together at the door.
Jesus was clearly a busy man. He lived a rather stressful life. He must've slept late, too, given the number of people He saw. But look at the passage.
Mark 1: 35-39
Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. And Simon and those who were with Him searched for Him. When they found Him, they said to Him, “Everyone is looking for you.”
But He said to them, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.
And He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons.
We note that although tired from all the work, He woke up when it was still dark. He went out and sought a solitary place where He could be alone. And there He prayed.
His prayer must have taken so long. Because Simon and the gang were all worried where He went. People were looking for Him.
Jesus said that they must go to the next towns. He would do preaching there. And preach He did. And He cast out demons, too.
Prayer was too important for Jesus. It was the first thing He did. He didn't rush to meet the crowd. He went alone and spent time praying.
You see, prayer was a way of life for Him. It was His bread: to do the will of Him who sent Him. By prayer Jesus was communing with His Father. We see other similar passages in Scripture, when Jesus was engaged in quiet prayer.
After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.
Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them,“Sit here while I go over there and pray.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?” As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.
After praying, Jesus immediately knew what He was going to do. He knew they ought to go to the next towns and continue His ministry there.
What can we learn from Jesus' example?
First, if we are to be of any use in the ministry, we must pray.
Second, we must devote personal time in quiet, solitary, private prayer.
Prayer is such a vital task for the Christian, that this led Husdon Taylor, the founder of the OMF International, to say, “Do not work so hard for Christ that you have no strength to pray, for prayer requires strength.”
Martin Luther, a key figure in the Protestant Reformation, said this about prayer, "If I fail to spend two hours in prayer each morning, the devil gets the victory through the day. I have so much business I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer.”
Let us all follow Jesus' example. Let us pray.
THIS IS AN EXHORTATION I gave on June 28, 2011, during Agape's weekly Prayer Meeting. I saw the old file saved on my hard drive, and I thought of sharing it today.