MY MOTIVATION TO PRAY
Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
Luke 5:16 NIV
I have never considered myself the praying type. I mean, I naturally pray before I eat Well, most of the time. And if someone sneezes, I’m always quick to say “God bless you!” I identify as a doer not a prayer. I often figured I would keep doing the tasks and then share my burdens with those that liked to pray. But several years ago, I found myself conveniently without someone to share my burdens with and so I was forced to build this muscle on my own. Feeling as though I had no one to whine to and no one that could take this to Jesus for me, I had to learn how to go deeper for myself.
It wasn’t until this past winter break that I began to consider why in tha world Jesus (who was God Himself) would constantly pull away to a lonely place to pray. I was a bit overwhelmed with life and its demands and being alone sounded so yummy. But when I mixed being alone with Jesus, something began to happen. I would walk out of my lil prayer closet with more peace, greater clarity and feeling even more supported. And the words I would then use in conversations thereafter seemed to appear, on occasion, as a resounding echo from somewhere more powerful. WOW!
So, I began to research Jesus and explore when He paused to pray. It was both challenging and encouraging to me. Of course, I began to think about you! If we are to leave a legacy that will live on beyond us, we need clarity and a reassurance that this is supposed to be bigger than us because its held together by someone bigger than us!
Jesus seemed to pray because He was aware of its role both here on earth and in heaven. He also prayed as an example for us to follow. Greater peace, greater clarity and greater success all require more significant times of solitude with God and in prayer.
WARNING: We must not stay buried too long in tasks or crowds.
Jesus had a minimal window of time to be on earth. He could have spent all of His time in ministry, buried in fulfilling tasks or within crowds. There was certainly a demand for it all. But we read throughout the Gospels that He often sent the crowds away so He could pray.
Jesus regularly withdrew from people, activities and even ministry opportunities to be alone with His Father. There are lessons to be learned from His pursuit of “lonely places.”
Let's look at a few:
Seven Reasons to Get Alone with God
Perhaps you find yourself in one of these sticky situations:
TOO BUSY TO PAUSE? Some days Jesus was so busy He had no time to stop and even make a sandwich (John 4:31-35). Yet He regularly sought out moments to pause in prayer. Time alone with God was how He nourished His soul. It was how He dealt with grief. And it was how He prepared for all the demands on his life.
PREPARING FOR SOMETHING? When in preparation for a new work, be sure to allow even more time alone with the One who has called you. Immediately after He was proclaimed the Lamb of God and publicly announced by John the Baptist, Jesus was compelled to go to a lonely place for forty long days and nights. That certainly seems like a counterintuitive way to begin a ministry. But that solitude and the battles fought alone were necessary for all that was to follow. “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil” (Matthew 4:1 NLT). It was there at the beginning of His ministry in this lonely place, after enduring temptation that the angels of the Lord began to minister to Him (Matt. 4:11)
BIG DECISIONS TO MAKE? Jesus got alone with God before He chose His twelve disciples. “One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night. At daybreak he called together all of his disciples and chose twelve of them to be apostles” (Luke 6:12-13a NLT). Before choosing His twelve closest men, Jesus went to a lonely place and prayed all night. All night! Whoa. That’s intense, but it proves the importance of prayer before major life decisions.
NEED STRATEGIES? Success and popularity are not always proof that God wants you to keep doing what you are currently doing. Even then, you still need to come away with Him. Sometimes God will move you in a different direction even though things seem to be going great! What happens if you are too fixed on your current strategy and success to hear Him moving you on? In the midst of seemingly great success, Jesus experienced a shift in direction after focused prayer. “Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. Later Simon and the others went out to find him. When they found him, they said, ‘Everyone is looking for you.’ But Jesus replied, ‘We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came’” (Mark 1:35-38 NLT).
WITHIN A TRIAL? When you need strength to face a trial, go first to a quiet place and meet with God. “So from that time on, the Jewish leaders began to plot Jesus’ death. As a result, Jesus stopped his public ministry among the people and left Jerusalem. He went to a place near the wilderness, to the village of Ephraim, and stayed there with his disciples” (John 11:53-54 NLT). Jesus had just healed Lazarus, and He knew that soon He would be offering himself as the ultimate and final Passover Lamb. He withdrew until the time was right. He chose the wilderness before His great and costly sacrifice.
AFRAID BUT WILLING? When the future is frightening, take time alone with God. “Then, accompanied by the disciples, Jesus left the upstairs room and went as usual to the Mount of Olives. There he told them, ‘Pray that you will not give in to temptation.’ He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine’” (Luke 22:39-42 NLT). Even in His last available moments before His capture and death, Jesus sought out God’s company in His usual practice of pausing to pray.
DO YOU FEEL WEAK? Time in the lonely places with God strengthens us. Jesus experienced this. “Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him” (Luke 22:43 NLT). How interesting that at the beginning and the end of Jesus’ ministry, He was strengthened by angels. (See Matthew 4:11). What a beautiful picture for us. When we are in need of strengthening, we need the lonely places with God most of all.
Ladies, this is our time. That thought motivates me. How about you? How will you respond?
It really is as simple as pausing to pray. Let’s fight to press pause. Let’s go to the lonely places and hide with Him. We will have greater clarity, an increased anointing and strategic results, if we simply begin to do more of what Jesus did and make prayer a priority versus a last ditch alternative. Let’s be doers that pray!
Your fellow Legator (one who leaves a legacy),
Andrea Moore XO