Mark 1:35″Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he got up, went out, and made his way to a deserted place. And he was praying there.”
So often prayer is seen as the “last resort, when all else falls” and the “Hail Mary” of options for many today. That is not what prayer is to be for the Christian, it is the means of seeking and understanding our Fathers heart in any situation regardless of the circumstances or situations. Christians, and especially Christian leaders, need to be found to be adherent followers and examples of prayer. Not as a backup plan but the “go to” plan of communicating with God the Father.
It was common knowledge among the disciples that they would find Jesus praying during the early morning hours. Jesus knew the importance of getting alone in prayer. And the disciples knew that if they needed him they would have to go into the place that Jesus would retreat to for prayer. On the very night that he betrayed him, Judas knew exactly where to go to find Jesus which was His place of prayer in the garden.
Every time the Lord Jesus faced an important decision, He prayed. When He was being tempted to do things by the world’s methods instead of by the Fathers, He prayed. When it was time to choose His disciples, He prayed the entire night.
If Jesus thought it was important enough that it required a whole night of prayer in order to determine the Father’s mind, how long might it take us in prayer to clearly determine our Father’s will for our life and for our churches direction?
Jesus was so often surrounded by people demanding His time, requesting miracles from Him, that He would retreat to a deserted, lonely places to hear the Father’s voice without distraction. Many times, Jesus had people that were trying to dictate the direction that He should be going. His disciples wanted Him to go where the crowds were. The crowds wanted to Crown Him King. Satan tempted Him to make compromises in order to draw a following.
Jesus knew that His mission was not to attract crowds, but to remain obedient to His Father. Many times we can get distracted from what God wants us to do in our life in leading our congregations but we have to remember that we need to get away in our deserted places, our quiet places, so that we can hear God’s voice.
Prayer came before the miracles, prayer brought Him encouragement at crucial moments, prayer enabled Him to go to the cross, and prayer kept Him there despite excruciating pain. You may have been through times of struggle and definitely times of uncertainty this past year of 2020 but Jesus can be our example going forward in 2021 and beyond. Follow the savior’s example and let your time alone with God, in prayer, set the agenda for your life and for your ministry.
This is not a time for resolutions but for a time of resolve for seeing and accomplishing God’s will.
My wife recently wrote some thoughts in regard to seeing God’s will and not ours. Here is one thought that should guide and lead us, “Radical obedience is obedience when it makes no sense or when it hurts or when it costs us dearly.”
“Lord Jesus, I pray today for the pastors and leaders of your church that they too will get away in their quiet places so that they too may hear and understand Your heart for Your people. May they be encouraged and have the resolve to see Your desire for their personal lives but for the congregations lives also. Bless them and may Your hand move upon them with power and love that only You can give. Amen.”
Rob Beckett, pastor of Shepherdsville Nazarene Church on Kentucky District – Restoring “The Image of God” to the Broken and Hurting.