He arose and went out and departed to a lonely place,
and was praying there."
I don't know about you, but prayer is a struggle for me. It is the hardest part of my Christian walk. I wrestle like a dog in this discipline. It is in the moment of moving through this means of grace that my doubts grow the greatest, that my exhaustion seems insurmountable, and that my thoughts scramble and discombobulate like wheat in a whirlwind!
I want to pray. I pray to pray. I fall on my face over and over and over as I attempt to pray. Understand?
That's why passages like this are precious to me. In them I see the priority that Christ puts on prayer and am reminded that inspite of the difficulties I must press on and pray on.
My Savior, Jesus Christ, was and still is a pray-er! The Word gives me many examples of His times of prayer on earth and it tells me that He is, even now, praying for me in Heaven. He is at this very moment "at the right hand of God, interceding for us" (Romans 8:34). The writer of Hebrews goes so far as to say that "He lives to make intercession for us" (Hebrews 7:25). Wow!
That's good news for one who struggles with prayer. My feeble attempts at coming boldly before the throne of grace are perfected by my great High Priest - Jesus!
Elsewhere, the Word reminds me that Jesus prays for me and here the Word reminds me just how desperately I need to follow the example of my gentle Shepherd and persevere in prayer. Think about it. This is Jesus - the Holy One of God - and He is praying! If Jesus places prayer as a priority how much MORE should I?!?! He doesn't "need" it. I desperately do!!
In the context of the passage, Jesus has been working overtime. From the place of His humanity He should be worn slap out. But exhaustion is not an excuse for punting prayer. Honestly, when we are weak and tired and strained and drained do we not have even greater need to fall on our face before the God who alone can give us the strength we need to do the things we must?!
Let us learn from the example of our Master and let us rise early and pour out our adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication. As we do so, let us lean upon Jesus, the One who intercedes for and helps us press on in prayer!
In His glorious grace,