by pastor david
“Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.”
Several years ago, I was teaching a class in a Bible Institute on the subject of prayer. I asked the class this question: “What should one do when he finds himself distracted during his prayer time?” An elderly gentleman, named Dale, who had participated very little during the previous lessons, spoke up immediately and without hesitation and said, “You should apologize to the Lord for being so rude”.
I have never forgotten that profound statement and the wisdom behind it. I am reminded of it often, as I am going about the daily practice of prayer. I often find myself apologizing to God for allowing my mind to wander away from my conversation with Him.
Let’s be honest. It is so very easy to be distracted during our prayer time, the result of which is disjointed, undisciplined, and often, unfinished prayers.
Why did Jesus rise “in the morning” a “long while before daylight”? Why did our Lord depart to “a solitary place”? Why did He choose to be apart, away, and alone during His private time with His Heavenly Father? Could it be that He knew that any other setting would be fraught with distractions.
Read through the Gospels and you will find Jesus withdrawing time and again, only to be interrupted by the clamoring crowds.
Let me ask you a few questions?
• Do you find yourself checking your email before you open your Bible in the morning?
• Do you have a number of conversations with people before you begin your morning conversation with God?
• If you get a text message during your prayer time, do you stop to read it?
• If, during your devotions, you remember something urgent you need to do, do you stop and finish your task before finishing your time alone with the Lord?
• What do you do when you get a phone call in the middle of your prayers?
• Does your family know when and where you will be spending time with the Lord?
The answers to the questions above will help you understand the many distractions that keep you from having the dynamic and effective prayer life you always wanted.
If we follow the example of our Lord Jesus, in Mark 1:35, we will apply several principles to our daily devotional time that will transform our prayer from mediocre to mighty.
1. Jesus had a specific time to pray.
(1:35a) “in the morning…a long while before daylight”
When do you pray? Apparently, morning is the best time to pray, according to Jesus.
• He asks for the first part of our week - the Lord’s Day.
• He asks for the first part of our income - our tithe.
• He asks for the first part of our day – the morning.
2. Jesus had a special place to pray.
(1:35b) “a solitary place”
The first thing He did when He arose each morning was to depart “to a solitary place” – away from the people He loved so much, away from the calling and ministry, away from everyone and everything except His Heavenly Father.
3. Jesus had a solemn reason to pray.
(1:35c) “there He prayed”
Jesus knew He would be unfit and ill-prepared for the task at hand, if He did not prepare Himself with this essential, spiritual exercise. Just look at the verses that follow. When His disciple found Him they said, “Everyone is looking for You” (1:37). His reply reveals the clarity for His ministry gained by that time alone with His Father; “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth” (1:38).
Oh, distractions! Each of us is plagued by them. However, if we follow the example of our Lord, we will better stay on task and enjoy the focused and fruitful time alone with the One who is more important to us than anyone or anything else on earth. I pray that we will all work hard at…
• Setting a specific time to pray
• Finding a special place to pray, and
• Having a solemn reason to pray.ay.
(1 Thessalonians 5:17 NKJV) “Pray without ceasing.”
(1 Thessalonians 5:17 NLT) “Never stop praying.”
The First Epistle to the Thessalonians, from the pen of the Apostle Paul, is all about “Living in the Light of His Coming”. The emphasis throughout is the fact of Christ’s return to the earth for His church and our faith in that immutable fact. Paul is encouraging his readers to live in such a way as to welcome the return of the King; to walk in a manner pleasing to Him and to have a conscience that is not fearful at the thought of standing before our Lord.
As Paul made his closing remarks in Chapter Five, he tells those believers that they already know that “the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night” (5:2). In light of the imminent return of Christ, Paul then gives a number of practical instructions to guarantee their readiness for His return.
One of the most important directives given is found in (5:17 NKJV), where Paul simply and succinctly instructs his readers to “Pray without ceasing” or “Never stop praying”, as the New Living Translation reads. Obviously, that does not mean for us to go about our daily routine with our head down, our eyes closed, muttering a constant prayer under our breath. Nor does it mean that we are to cloister ourselves away in some monastery, secluded from the world, engaging in non-stop supplication.
What then does “Pray without ceasing” actually mean? To answer that question we must understand the prayer is both an act and an attitude. Not only are we to engage in prayer at specific times and places each day but also, we are to be in a constant attitude of prayer throughout the day.
There must be nothing in our lives about which we cannot pray.
When I think about praying, “without ceasing”, I picture myself walking through my day with Christ walking right by my side, step by step. There are times when we talk. There are times when we are silent. There are times when we laugh and at other times, we cry.
However, no matter where I am or what I am facing, whether comical or catastrophic, Christ is right there beside me, step by step. At times I call out to Him for help. At other times, I seek His advice. Much of the time is spent praising Him for who He is and thanking Him for what He has done in my life and family.
Even when there is no dialogue between us, I have His promise, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
Pastor David Boggs
I hope these occasional posts will encourage and challenge you as we grow in Christ together.
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