Thursday, October 4, 2012

Into the Wilderness

Luke 5:16 (KJV)  And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.

When we look through the Gospels at Jesus’ prayer life, there are some things that pop right out at us.  It didn’t matter whether an event was good or bad, Jesus prayed before it.  Forty days of temptation in the desert, begin with prayer.  Rescue the disciples from a demonic storm at sea, pray first.  Select the twelve apostles, pray first.  Teach or show the disciples more about who He was, pray first.  You get the picture.

Not every incident mentions prayer before the incident.  But, it’s mentioned often enough that it’s evident this was a way of life for Jesus.  Think about that.  Here’s a being who is half man, half God.  He was capable of doing anything He wanted, whenever He wanted.  Yet He prayed.  That conversational connection with the Father was important to Jesus.  Through it, He demonstrated His obedience. 

As a refresher, remember what the Greek word for “obedience” means – placing oneself under authority and listening to that authority.  Jesus submission was a direct channel to His source of power and strength.  Just like the faithful servants mentioned in parables, there’s a reward of being given more power based on using what He had in the right way.  And that was necessary because He voluntarily gave up part of His power to be fully human, along with being fully God.  The humanity didn’t have the power.

Another thing that seems to be pretty consistent is where Jesus prayed.  Most often He found someplace quiet, separated from everything else.  As God, that wasn’t necessary.  But I can picture His humanity, just like mine, being drawn away from focusing by external distractions.  People trying to get His attention and His favor.  Demons trying to keep Him from any spiritual success.  A place that eliminated some of the distraction was essential.

There are people who I consider such dear friends that even if we don’t speak or see each other much, that friendship makes everything that much easier to deal with.  The essence of that relationship makes everything else palatable.  Think about how close the three members of the Trinity must be.  But Jesus, for a season, had a hindrance to that closeness by becoming part man.  And, once again, what solves that?  Prayer.  Jesus could talk to the Father and the Holy Spirit.

So, let’s look at what we’ve described here.  I’m not sure if this all was done as example for us, but it would surprise me if that wasn’t part of it.  Jesus often did things not only because they were needed at the time, but also because they would be our example.  In the case of prayer:
  1. Jesus prayed before dealing with anything important.  For us, that should convert to as often as we can.  We aren’t omniscient, so we can’t know beforehand when something important enough for prayer will come our way.  Or if our present mundane circumstances really have great spiritual importance.
  2. It’s an opportunity to be obedient to the Father.  Under authority and under protection.
  3. It’s just like sticking batteries in a charger and plugging it in.  Jesus renewed His strength and power.  And so do we.  As the saying goes, it helps us to “keep on keepin’ on”.
  4. Jesus got rid of distractions.  We need to, as well.  How easy it is to lose focus when there are a number of different things, all trying to get our attention.
  5. Close relationships.  They don’t necessarily require having a lot of contact or serious conversation, but there does need to be some communication.  Jesus did that with the rest of the Trinity by prayer – conversation with the Father.  We don’t get direct conversation.  But we can talk to God in prayer and we get to listen be taking in His Word.
Now, there’s probably a bit of assumption on my part in all of this.  We don’t know that Jesus needed His spiritual batteries recharged because of the human part of His nature.  Nor do we know that His humanity needed protection from distractions.  But those thoughts do put our own weakness in perspective.  And God certainly wants us to have a close relationship with Him.  So, even though  there may be a stretch in some of this, I think God wants us to latch onto all that will keep us close to Him and His protection.

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