Daily Devotional

Prayer: Alone with God

by Simon Whitton

Yet the news about him spread all the more,
so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses.
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
Luke 5:15-16 (NIV)

Crowds came to hear Jesus speak and to be ministered to, but despite the great need of the people, Jesus often withdrew to be alone with His Father. Jesus gave these times of prayer a very high priority, even when there were many important demands on His time. Here is another example:

35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
36 Simon and his companions went to look for him,
37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: "Everyone is looking for you!"
38 Jesus replied, "Let us go somewhere else-- to the nearby villages-- so I can preach there also. That is why I have come."
39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.
Mark 1:35-39 (NIV)

Jesus had the busy schedule of a traveling ministry that included preaching, healing and driving out demons. But the thing that Jesus put first, and probably that which held it all together, was a personal time of prayer alone with His Father. Jesus could have stayed in the house with His disciples and held a prayer meeting, but He went and found a solitary place, and virtually hid from them.

Prayer in the scriptures is typically a solitary practice. Of course, there are times when we should pray together, but let's not neglect that private place, that place of intimacy with our Father. The church knows by heart, and often recites together, 'the Lord's prayer' that Jesus used to teach His disciples:

"This, then, is how you should pray:
"'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name...
Matthew 6:9 (NIV)

But less well known is what Jesus said three verses before that prayer:

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Matthew 6:6 (NIV)

Our primary calling is to a relationship with God, not to a relationship with our Bible or church. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees knew scripture thoroughly, they carefully observed the laws, they tithed, they were always found in the synagogues and the temple, and they recited prayers; yet Jesus had disdain for them. If we don't have an intimate relationship with God, how will our practice of faith be different from theirs?

We can hear about God and we can read about Him, but there's no substitute for spending time with Him. Let's make time alone with God a priority in our busy lives. Find a solitary place where you can open your heart to Him in prayer, and find His presence.

Spend some time in prayer…

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