Pray without ceasing … Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (1 Thessalonians 5:17 and Philippians 4:6 ESV)
There is no better example for the necessity, privilege, power or purpose of prayer than to look at the life of Jesus. Let’s take a few moments to do that very thing right now.
Jesus healed many, people thronged to him with requests. Afterward, he withdrew to pray (Luke 5:12-16). When we are busy, pressed by life, we should withdraw and pray.
Jesus healed a friend’s mom, healed many more, dealt with demons and withdrew to pray; upon withdrawing to pray, Jesus prepared to preach (Mark 1:29-39). Whether having been busy in ministry, being pressed in spiritual warfare or preparing for spiritual work, we ought to withdraw and pray.
Jesus healed a man’s withered hand, realized the intentions of conspiring persecutors and he withdrew (Matthew 12:9-16). Whether he prayed or not, Jesus withdrew. He came apart from the conspirators and continued his work. When we are serving the Lord, pressure comes, and we must be discerning when we ought to go forth, and when we ought to withdraw. Jesus’s pattern seemed to be to go forth in work and withdraw into intimate fellowship with the Father. We’d be wise to follow his pattern.
In the death of John the Baptist, Jesus experienced the loss of a cousin, saw the persecution of the righteous, witnessed the wickedness of ruling powers and loss an honorable partner in kingdom work; then, Jesus withdrew to pray (Matthew 14:1-13). In loss, we should withdraw in prayer. In empathy with the persecuted, we should withdraw to pray. In the oppressing pressure of this wicked world, we should withdraw to pray.
Jesus intended to withdraw in prayer when he heard of the death of John, but was interrupted by the necessity of ministry; doubly needful now, Jesus did indeed withdraw (Matthew 14:22-33). When our need to pray is interrupted, we must remain committed to our need to pray! (Fact is, we probably rarely realize how deep our need to pray is!)
In discerning those he would call into apostolic ministry, Jesus prayed all night long (Luke 6:12-16). We all face big decisions, and we’d be wise to withdraw and pray, seek the father, and ask for discernment.
In Matthew 26:26-44, Jesus knew he was facing the cross; he withdrew to pray on multiple occasions over the course of the entire night, and recruited others to pray as well. None of us face dying for the sins of mankind by crucifixion, but all of us face bearing our cross. In going to the cross, Jesus also knew for the first/only time that he would have fellowship with the father broken, so he prayed all night. In the prospects of bearing our own cross, or at the risk – which is daily – of fellowship being broken with our heavenly father, we need to pray!
For every important reason, Jesus prayed. He didn’t always withdraw, but at many times and for many reasons, he did. There’s a lesson in this for us! Even when Jesus did not withdraw, his prayer life was active, vibrant and constant.
Our life necessitates prayer! Prayer is our opportunity and our privilege! Whatever you’re facing, withdraw and pray. If nothing else, pray because God tells believers to do so. However, what we may do in duty can surely be used of God to transport us into delight. We need times of silence. We need those times where the whispering transmissions of God can break through to us. The thirst of our souls need the refreshing of God in prayer.