There are three passages I want to turn our attention to this week. Looking at these three passages where Jesus prays alone, there is one thing that stands out to me- action. In each of these instances, Jesus takes action to make this solitary time possible. Let’s look at each of them one at a time.
He made a choice here to leave the disciples and go find a place alone to pray. This reminds me of a story I heard years ago about Benny Hinn. So profound, this story has stuck with me almost 20 years.
The story goes that Benny was at a restaurant with all the big names, the “who’s who” of this era. They were all the headliners at a big conference or something like that, and they had very much been looking forward to having time together, especially the younger, more inexperienced ones around that table. The waiter comes and takes the orders, and amazing conversation begins to spark around the table. The first course arrives, and the men all pray. Everyone is about to eat, Benny picks up his fork, and just freezes.
The Spirit of God came in to the restaurant like a sweet fragrant wind. Benny, familiar with the activity of the Holy Spirit, takes his fork and puts it back down. He gets up from the table, and says, “excuse me gentlemen, I must seek the Lord while He may be found.”
I believe Jesus was in a similar situation, and I believe this inconspicuous verse, sandwiched between healing miracles and large crowds, speaks so loudly. To be so in tune with the Holy Spirit that you can feel the enormous presence of God, watching miracles before your very eyes, and navigate the still small voice inviting you to a private meeting with the audience of one. It’s a choice to withdraw. Jesus had a choice. After all, He was fully God, He didn’t need to withdraw in prayer for “spiritual fuel”, no, I am pretty sure He heard His Father inviting Him to some private time. He chose fellowshipping with the Spirit over the crowds and popularity.
HE MADE HIS DISCIPLES LEAVE, AND SENT THE MULTITUDES AWAY.
In this passage we see Jesus orchestrating many others to carve out some personal time to get alone. Even though Jesus seems to always have people around Him, He consistently takes the initiative to get alone with the Father. He had to orchestrate 5000 plus people (get them to basically ‘scram’) and then get the disciples in a boat out across the sea. It reminds me of my house- getting the husband off the work, the kids off to school- everything in its proper place (takes a lot of work and planning), so I can get my quiet time. Of course, I have it easier. I have a house, rooms that I can pray in, etc.
Jesus didn’t have a home, or private bedroom. He had to plan all the more and navigate these people who were stuck to him like glue (moms of small children can relate here), all the while keeping His love and compassion fully charged. Wow. What an example. This is how important getting time alone with the Father was.
HE ROSE EARLY.
Jesus led a nomadic lifestyle. He said, “Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.” Matthew 8:20. He went from place to place, perhaps not knowing where He would sleep most nights. Speaking as someone who is a huge fan of schedules, Jesus demonstrated how to have discipline without a consistent schedule. Think about it.
In Matthew 14, Jesus went up on the mountain to pray in the evening. We know this was after dinnertime, because the 5000 were fed dinner. (Matthew 14:15-16) It was after the dinner he sent the disciples off across the sea and went away to pray. It said he was alone there until the fourth watch. So it’s possible He made His way over to where the disciples were in the middle of the night, but regardless, if this is a sequence of events that took place the same night, dinner ended between 8-9 p.m. perhaps, and then he prays until 2-3 a.m. since the fourth watch is between 3-6 a.m. I’d say Jesus was praying through the night, would that be accurate to you?
Then in Mark 1:35, He rises early, while it’s still dark. See, we can’t make a doctrine of what time you should pray. Jesus’ example is early, late, through the night, and I’m sure all throughout the day as well. The point is that He took action. He intentionally carved out time alone and had to be creative to orchestrate the precious solitary time with the Father, and so should we.
This week, let’s meditate on intentionality. Do you realize how powerful your mind is? Every action begins with a thought. You think about it, you make a decision, and things manifest. Think about prayer. Think about being alone with the Father. Think about creative ways and places where you can sneak away to be alone with God each day.
I look forward to talking with you about this in our online Bible study this week!
*if you haven’t joined the online Bible Study yet, contact me today and I’ll send yo the link for Wednesday night’s group