But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. – Luke 5:16
Prayer is such a vital component of the Christian faith. Many folks have compared prayer to oxygen, contending that we need prayer in our lives like we need a breath. The idea is that without oxygen, we don’t survive. Similarly, without prayer, our faith withers and dies.
Regular rhythms of prayer help us to move beyond surviving with some faith intact to a place of flourishing in the faith. A regular pattern of prayer can help to facilitate growth, depth, and obedience. Jesus had a regular pattern of prayer. He built prayer into His life, often withdrawing from others to engage in prayer. He made time for it even when he was busy…especially when He was busy.
I find it easy to have short quick times of prayer in my life. There is always a moment here and there to make a request, to ask forgiveness, to ask for a change of heart or attitude, or to express gratitude for undeserved grace and mercy. I can even find time in the car when I'm headed to work or running errands to get a few minutes of time alone with God. It’s the extended withdrawal that I find most difficult. All the various roles in my life keep me pretty busy. It is a challenge to find time to pray like that, but I know I need to find it.
Prayer helps us focus on what is important. It helps us to bear our hearts and thoughts to God. It shows our reliance on God. It reminds us that we are not in control. It serves to help us know God’s heart and helps to change ours. Prayer helps us see or desperation. It reveals our desires and attitudes. Prayer helps us know the nature and character of God. It helps us to listen and be attentive to the Spirit. It helps our faith to flourish. Prayer reminds us of undeserved grace and mercy. It points us to God’s heart for justice. Prayer is the lifeblood of our relationship with Jesus.
Jesus needs to be our example of a life dedicated to prayer. If we want to flourish in the faith, prayer must be a key ingredient. We need to make time to withdraw and pray. Busyness has a way of keeping us distracted and it makes it difficult to see God’s hand at work and to hear the prompting of the Holy Spirit. We help combat this by stepping away from the routine of busyness and stepping toward periods of extended prayer away from the hustle and bustle of life.
Questions for Reflection:
Do you have a regular pattern of prayer in your life?
Do you regularly withdraw for extended periods of prayer time?
Is prayer a priority in your life? If not, why not?