Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Prayer: Following Jesus' Example


"We prioritize prayer in this life as we live for the next."

It's an amazing verse: "He often withdrew to deserted places and prayed," (Luke 5:16, CSB).

Some may explain this reality of Jesus' life by considering the pressures He had to face as He possessed (and still possesses) true humanity. Consider the verse before that states He was being hounded by "large crowds" for counsel and healing. Moses's "morning 'til evening" judgments caused him to quickly wear thin (Exodus 18:13ff) -- but he was only dealing with fellow Israelites and did not have a ministry of healing. Jesus was constantly pestered by Jews and Gentiles alike, being expected to care for each one in the fulness of His power. No wonder He often withdrew to the desolate places to pray.

Yet, at the same time, we must consider that in addition to His true humanity Jesus possessed (and still possesses) true divinity. He is omnipotent, omniscient, never-changing God. He has power that never wanes, sputters, or runs out. His abilities cannot be exhausted or overcome -- and He is without sin! How could He feel the need to withdraw often to deserted places to pray?

We do well to remember that Jesus' deity didn't swallow up His humanity throughout His earthly life. He got hungry and tired, grew and learned, sweat and bled, suffered and died. And He prayed. He took His requests to His Father in the untarnished image of God. He prioritized time alone with His God as a man who needed to do so for His own soul, and to fulfill all righteousness.

If this was necessary for Him, how much more is it necessary for us? Take time to ponder this commentary from Matthew Poole:

"We meet with Christ often commending to us the duty of secret prayer, by His own example, and always choosing for it the most private and retired places, to teach us to go and to do likewise, often to pray to our Father which seeth in secret... We have much more business with God in prayer than He had; He had no sins to confess, nor to beg pardon for, no need to ask for any sanctifying habits of grace...Christ had no idle hours; He was always either preaching or healing, thereby doing good to others; or praying, thereby paying a homage to God. If it could be said of the Roman (with respect to his studies), it should be much more said of Christians. They should never be less alone than when they are alone, nor less idle than when they are most at leisure from their public employments."

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