“I say a little prayer for you.” (Aretha Franklin)
Prayer is conversation with God, and is a vital discipline for every follower of Christ. Our discipleship will only develop to the extent that we pray. Jesus Himself is our great example of how to pray.
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. (Mark 1:35)
Priority – rising very early
The early bird catches the worm. Most successful people are early risers. Sacrificing extra sleep is for the committed. For Jesus, prayer was His priority. Before anyone else had stirred, while it was still dark, He climbed out of bed because that is how important prayer was to Him. If the Son of God took prayer that seriously, every believer, disciple and leader ought to do the same. Prayer is a priority.
Time – in the morning
There is a time for everything. Effective people are organised and manage time well. If something needs doing, a time slot has to be given to it. Despite His busy schedule, Jesus had a time for prayer. His first appointment of the day was with His Father. The first practical step to a prolonged, dynamic prayer life is the setting aside of a specific time to pray each day. Prayer needs to be given a time slot.
Place – went out to a place
‘I can pray anywhere,’ sounds right, but in practice it rarely works. Those who adopt that approach to prayer may find it to be more miss than hit. Jesus found a specific place and went there to pray. He could have knelt down at the side of His bed, but He didn’t because the house was too crowded. So He took Himself off to His place of prayer. Find a place where you pray. It will help. Prayer is helped by a designated place.
Privacy – he departed to a desolate place
There were people everywhere. The first few chapters of Mark’s Gospel give the impression that during this season of His ministry, Jesus had very little time to Himself. In order to pray He had to escape from everyone and get some time alone with His Father. Personal prayer requires privacy. Shutting everybody else out while we pray is essential. No distractions, no interruptions. Prayer requires isolation and privacy.
Prayer – there he prayed
“Prayer is simply talking to God.” (Billy Graham) Religion seeks to obsess about the form that prayer takes. Yet ironically, practices designed to aid prayer can, if we are not careful, be a distraction from prayer. Prayer is a lot simpler than we sometimes make it. When Jesus prayed He talked intimately with His Father. We are called to do the same. Prayer can only be learned by doing it.
“Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath, the Christian’s native air.” (James Montgomery) Prayer was so important to Jesus that He got up early and went off to a solitary place to pray. Prayer is as important for us.