August 20, 2019 • Life for Leaders
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.
Most Christians I know struggle with prayer. Oh, to be sure, among my friends are those who faithfully pray each day. Some even spend an hour or more in intercession for others. But these folk are the exceptions to the rule. The rule, it seems to me, is that we don’t find it easy to pray.
There are lots of reasons for our struggle with prayer. The fact that we’re talking to a God whom we cannot physically see or hear makes prayer rather difficult. Because so many of us are not part of an intentional Christian community, we don’t have the support that comes from praying daily with others. Then there’s the fact that our lives are so busy, overly busy, actually. Sustained prayer is one of those things that gets squeezed out by work, parenting, serving at church, hanging out with friends, and a host of other life-filling activities.
Then we read Mark 1:35: “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.” We get the sense from this verse that what Jesus did wasn’t unusual for him. This sense is confirmed in Luke 5:16, where it says that Jesus “often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 6:12 adds that, on one occasion, Jesus “spent the night praying to God.”
Here might be the best reason why you and I should pray: Jesus did it. If Jesus, the unique Son of God, found it essential and worthwhile to devote time to prayer, shouldn’t we?
I think the answer is obvious. Of course it’s “Yes!” But if you’re one of those Christians who struggles with prayer, this question can lead to a sense of failure and shame. This is not my purpose at all in writing this devotion. Rather, I want to encourage you today with two bits of good news. First, if you are reading these words, then you surely desire to grow in your prayer life. Why else are you reading a devotional that leads up to prayer? God is already giving you a growing desire to pray. That’s great. May that desire grow even more within you.
Second, the same Jesus who regularly went out to pray is present to help you and me as we seek to imitate him. The Spirit of Jesus dwells within us and will help us if we seek him. So, if you’d like to be more faithful in prayer, the starting point isn’t guilt. Rather, it’s a simple request: Lord, help me to pray! If you ask, he will.
Something to Think About:
Do you struggle with prayer? If so, why? If not, why not?
What helps you to pray? What helps you to be consistent in your communication with God?
Will you ask Jesus to help you become more faithful in prayer?
Lord Jesus, as I see your example of prayer, I must admit that I am, at first, somewhat disheartened. I’ve been a Christian for a long time, and still I don’t find it natural to imitate you in your prayer life. I wonder why I am so dull, so prayerless at times.
Yet, I am also encouraged, Lord, because I sense that you are growing my desire for prayer. You are helping me to pray and to do so more often. Thank you!
Still, I ask for even more help, so that I might consistently spend time in communication with you. Teach me to pray, Lord. Help me to be like you! Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online : How Christians Can Experience Deeper Rest.
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.