The example of Jesus is set out before us. He woke up early, got away by himself, and prayed. I have every intention of starting each of my days of with that exact sentence, but do you know how they usually end up?
In the morning, slightly before dawn, she hit the snooze button and rolled over on her side to try and squeak out nine more minutes of sleep… and then she did it again, and again, and again until it was 7:20am and the first thing out of her mouth was not quite a prayer.
So, why did He do it? If it feels impossible for me to manage, how can I learn from His example? Let’s back up the passage and read what was going on around this verse.
That evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were sick and those who were possessed by devils. The whole town came crowding round the door, and he cured many who were suffering from diseases of one kind or another… In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there. Simon and his companions set out in search of him, and when they found him they said, “Everybody is looking for you.” He answered, “Let us go elsewhere, to the neighboring country towns, so that I can preach there too, because this is why I came.” John 1:32-38
Prior to the praying Jesus is healing the people. Post-prayer He is thrust once again into active ministry. Business and hurting crowds surround him. But Jesus knew that in order for Him to remain effective, He had to recharge with His Father. In the midst of His ministry, He sacrificed sleep for true rest. I know that I deceive myself when I argue that God would actually want me to sleep more than He would desire to spend intimate time with me. The secret to the ministry of Jesus is hidden in His recognition that it is far better to be deprived of ANYTHING else, rather than be God-deprived.
In prayer we find a connection to the One who holds our worth, our futures, hopes, fears, dreams, and longings. Jesus lived through prayer, learning to speak God’s words, to do God’s will, and to pursue God’s glory. Prayer is a gift, one that we treat casually… at least I do. I am challenged and encouraged by the example of Jesus.
Henri Nouwen writes, “In the middle of sentence loaded with action – healing suffering people, casting out devils, responding to impatient disciples, traveling from town to town and preaching from synagogue to synagogue – we find these quiet words: In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there. In the center of breathless activities we hear a restful breathing. Surrounded by hours of moving we find a moment of quiet stillness. In the heart of much involvement there are words of withdrawal. In the midst of action there is contemplation. And after much togetherness there is solitude. The more I read this nearly silent sentence locked in between the loud words of action, the more I have the sense that the secret of Jesus’ ministry is hidden in that lonely place where he went to pray, early in the morning, long before dawn.”
May you find Him in the silence of the day.
P.S. Don’t forget the giveaway contest! Entries close at 5pm Pacific Time on Friday the 8th!