There are many things that have been or could be said about Jesus, but there is one I find myself drawn to today.
Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.Luke 5:16 (New International Version)
Perhaps what is vibrating in my soul is what is not said about Jesus here. Don’t you think there might be something missing?
Jesus did not stop by the bookstore or fill up his virtual cart with books about prayer to study. Jesus did not drop into the synagogue and ask to be taught to pray or have someone pray for him. Jesus did not gather a circle of friends to hold a prayer meeting and go over the concerns of family members and those connected to them.
Of course, I do all of these things (they’re not bad, just incomplete). What I don’t do all that well is actually pray. I have studied prayer and led classes on prayer and participated in prayer groups and gatherings. I highly recommend you check out The Prayer Course. It is soooo good.) In doing so, I have made prayer an activity, one among many, that I think about and study and tell others about while neglecting the heart of prayer; a relationship with God.
I’m one of those guys Paul warns Timothy about. You know the ones…
Having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.2 Timothy 3:5
Jesus withdraws. Not once in awhile, but often. He goes to lonely places which I take to mean alone, isolated perhaps, free from hustle and bustle and striving and performing. Most importantly, he prays. He doesn’t study. He doesn’t try to write the perfect prayer. He doesn’t talk about praying or look for special tools to use as he prays. Yes, he did these things on occasion, but “he often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
I am being a bit harsh on myself, I know. Sure, I have piles of books about the why and how of prayer. I have collections of prayers to be prayed. Sometimes I set them aside and come fully into the presence of the God who gifts us prayer as a way of being in relationship. Sometimes, I don’t just think about or read about or talk about praying. Sometimes, I pray.
And when I start beating up on myself like I might be doing a bit right now, I remember praying sometimes is better than not praying at all. To pray even once in a while counts. Yes we want to “pray without ceasing,” (thanks again, Paul) but if I pray with fits and starts and if my prayers are self-centered and selfish and not much like what I imagine the good pray-ers pray, it is still better than not praying.
And that rascal Paul pulls me aside and says, “lighten up Franssens. If you’re going to keep quoting me, get Romans 8:26 in there.”
So while I look to withdraw to a lonely place to pray, I’ll oblige Paul. He’s right, of course, and it is worth remembering when we get it all mixed up…
The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit intercedes for us through wordless groans.Romans 8:26
And there you have it. God helping us pray so that we can grow closer to God. We should thank God for that. Let us pray…
Life is better together,