In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.
What is it exactly that God wants to communicate to us in prayer? I have to admit I have a lot of unanswered questions about prayer. For example, if God has a sovereign plan for each of our lives, if everything has already been planned, then why should we bother to pray at all? Does prayer really change things? Does it change God’s will? Why is it that I pray about some things for months and years and God doesn’t answer, while other things, I ask Him one time and He answers instantly and dramatically? And why does God so often seem to answer other people’s prayers but not mine?
Have you ever had those kinds of questions about prayer? Yet all of my questions about prayer melt away when I look at the example of Jesus Christ. Today we will look at Jesus’ example of prayer in the first chapter of the Gospel of Mark.
It is interesting to note when this event in Jesus’ life occurred. The day before this event was the busiest recorded day in Jesus’ ministry. Jesus had spent the entire day and evening preaching, teaching, casting out demons, meeting with and ministering to people individually. He crawled into bed very late that night. But then look at what happens: “In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there” (Mark 1:35).
Now, if I were Jesus, I could have come up with a lot of reasons to stay in bed that morning. I would find a good excuse to roll over and hit the snooze button. To say, “God, I know this is the time I usually meet with You, but I had a busy day serving You yesterday. Surely You want me to catch up on my sleep.” But Jesus knew that prayer isn’t a nicety; it’s a necessity.
By the way, I think it was Jesus’ commitment to prayer that caused the disciples to ask Him this question: “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). Now, I don’t think they were saying, “Lord, teach us to use that special prayer language we’ve heard You using when You pray.” There is no example in the Bible of Jesus ever employing a special prayer language. Nor were the disciples saying, “Lord, teach us to use those big theological terms You use when You pray.” No, Jesus’ prayers recorded in Scripture are all very simple. I think when the disciples said, “Lord, teach us to pray,” they were saying, “Lord, teach us how to have the same commitment to prayer that You have.”
You see, Jesus didn’t just pray when His back was up against the wall. Isn’t that what we do? We will pray when a crisis comes. When the phone rings in the middle of the night. Or when our boss tells us that our job is up for grabs. Or when the doctor tells us that things aren’t looking good. Or when our mate tells us somebody else is starting to look good. That is when we’re forced to pray. But that was not true of Jesus. He prayed at all times. He was committed to praying.
If prayer was essential for the Lord Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of God, if prayer was vital to Him, then how important is it for us? Jesus was sold out to prayer—not only so that He could speak to God, but so that He could listen to God as well.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The God Who Speaks” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.