Ø “And after He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone.” Matthew 14:23
Ø “After bidding them farewell, He left for the mountain to pray.” Mark 6:46
Ø So Jesus…withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone.” John 6:15
Lessons taught by Jesus in The School of Prayer are not so much learned in the classroom, as they are caught in the middle of a crisis. The School of Prayer is a war college where prayer warriors learn to lean on The Master, by observing how He responded to the chaos and confusion around Him.
Panic focuses on the disaster, while prayer turns the eyes of a fearful prayer warrior towards Jesus. The Master of all creation is also The Master of Disaster, real or imagined.
Jesus extended an invitation to His disciples with a simple, yet profound statement, “Follow Me.” He offered His company, to those seeking God’s direction, protection and correction. They were given an opportunity to leave what seemed hugely urgent to them, and walk beside Him and learn what was the most important lesson in life, “Lord, teach us to pray.”
Prayerful people take hold of what The Father has for His children, by letting go of what is already in their hands. Holding on to what looks like a security blanket can become a dangerous liability to a life of faith. Prayer releases false security and increases genuine faith.
In the middle of a successful ministry, Jesus withdrew from the clamor of the crowds, crying out to make Him king. He also left those closest to Him, to get alone with God. This record of the prayer life of Jesus indicates that He sought The Father in the evening, as well as in the morning.
Jesus not only longed for intimate communication with His Father in the early morning hours, and during intense, all night sessions on The Mountain. He was also drawn away from others and towards The Father, to pray at the close of the day.
For those who put high priority on an early morning Quiet Time, it is worth noting that Jesus was not only a morning person, but he was also an evening person. Apparently, there was not a time of the day that was more sacred to Him than the other, when it came to getting alone with The Father in prayer.
Corporate worship is highly valued in the contemporary church, as well it should be. From the earliest days of the church, believers were warned about the dangers of turning their backs on assembling together to worship God. When sheep separate themselves from the flock, they become prey for predators of all kinds, inside and outside of the church.
Note to self: You will either pray or you will be the prey.
Jesus placed a very high priority on getting away from the demands of the crowd, and praying with The Father, ALONE. He did not seek affirmation of His ministry from the crowd, but from The Father. He withdrew from those who wanted more from Him, and those who desired to be around Him. Through private, personal prayer, He sought the company of The One who had called Him, not those who wanted to use or abuse Him.
Private prayer is powerful because it separates prayer warriors from the sound of the battle, and draws them nearer to The Presence of The Champion. Prayer purifies motives. It also prepares people for more effective ministry. When the applause of the crowd becomes more important than the pause to pray, the time has come for motives in ministry to be purified.
Jesus refused to be tempted by the siren call of celebrity. He withdrew from the limelight of success, and stepped into the fading light of the day to get alone with The Father. His followers would be wise to follow His lead, morning, noon and night.
Preaching to the crowd, without hearing from God may draw a crowd, but fail to deliver God’s message. Many who start out as faithful messengers, gradually stop speaking for God. While honing their communication skills, they start appeasing and appealing to the galleries. This never ends well.
Success and failure are team efforts, but too many preachers take them personally. The applause of celebrity stalkers, and the verbal abuse of critics can each drown out the voice of The Father. Anything that makes a preacher place too high, or too low a value on his ministry should be taken to The Father in prayer. This is best done as soon as the applause dies down, or the preacher’s blood pressure goes up. You make the call.
Jesus let go of the crowds and left His disciples behind, to get alone with The Father to pray. His purity was a reflection of His humility. Though He was God, The Son humbled Himself before The Father, and yielded His will to pray and to receive God’s direction, protection and correction.
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:5ff KJV
Prayerless people do not have a heart for prayer, because they have lost their minds. The sound of the applause of a great crowd, or the abuse of a single critic can drown out the voice of The Spirit. Prayer warriors Follow Jesus, and get alone with The Father. Private, personal prayer increases the sound of the still, small voice of His Spirit saying, “Can you hear Me now?” TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!