Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. 23 After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone. Matthew 14:22-23 (NLT)
The Lectionary texts for next week are an interesting mix. The Old Testament passage tells of Elijah’s great fears and his meeting with God. Then the psalm is a glorious song of praise for the promises God has made and continues to keep throughout the generations. The excerpt from Paul’s letter to the Roman’s affirms God’s plan to free His all children from their sins through the sacrifice of His Son. “But how can His children know about this gift unless we tell them?”
In Matthew’s passage for this week, Jesus walks out on the water and Peter takes his step of faith to do the same. But for me, the story has an important point in the first two verses of the selection before anyone takes a walk on water. Jesus, God-in-the-flesh, takes time to pray.
Jesus is God. In my limited ability to understand God and how He is Creator, Spirit, and even came in the flesh for 33 years, I pause every time I read in a gospel account that Jesus, God Himself, spent time in prayer. It must be important.
Prayer is focused time with God. It is time to bring Him all that is my life – the sorrows, the questions, the worries, the uncertainties, the joys and the thanks. Do you ever feel weighted down and overwhelmed? Oh, I have! It is usually because I am carrying so much in my spirit, in my heart for people I love or situations in the world which are just so very wrong. God wants to carry my burdens. He wants me to give them to Him. He also wants me to confess my sins and receive His forgiveness.
It is also time to read His Word in a quiet meditative way. I can go to any chapter in the Bible, no matter how familiar they are to me, and when I take the time to read them and allow the words to roll around in my mind and spirit, there is always something new to learn. The circumstances of my life when I read a passage a year ago are not the same circumstances in which I now live. God wants to speak in my life today. He wants to have an ongoing relationship with me.
And prayer is a time to listen. This is the part of prayer which I believe is most important. I close my eyes and just open my heart to hear what God has to say. It is time to be quiet and let the Holy Spirit speak His truths and guidance to me.
Prayer is also when reconciliation occurs between me and Father God. When I confess my sins and He gives His mercy, I am able to come close to Father God again and the time is even more sweet.
I have tried to just “chat” with God throughout the day. But at night when I prepare to lay down, this is the best time, for me, to get quiet and really pray, confessing to Him, thanking Him, and just being quiet as the day ends.
Preaching, teaching, evangelizing are all important to building God’s Kingdom. But prayer is the all important ingredient in every facet of God’s plan. It cannot be neglected. Take the time.
Let the Weight of Your Glory Fall written & sung by Paul Wilbur