As often as possible Jesus withdrew to out-of-the-way places for prayer. (Luke 5:16 MSG)
After Jesus was baptized by John and went through the testing in the wilderness, it was time for him to begin his work—to draw near to people and draw people nearer to himself and his Father. As we begin to read about his mission, we see that many were immediately drawn to him. The first disciples, Simon called Peter, James, and John, were called from their own work to begin watching Jesus in his.
In Luke 5:15 we read, “Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses.”
People came to Jesus in response to the fact that he came close to them…he healed them. Isn’t that what we all want- the healing experience? Or maybe we are like the first disciples and want to just be called, to feel singled out by Jesus…chosen.
And yet we do not come, even in His calling of us. We are busy, surrounded by our own needs, the needs of others, and the tasks at hand.
I think Jesus understands this about us, after all he experienced the same thing. He was surrounded by the needs of others. Crowds of people followed him, pressed in, begged for him to come close and heal their wounds. He, too, knows what it is like to be focused on the task at hand, the importance of completing the job well. And even in the midst of being tasked by God, his Father, to come close to others and bring them closer…he shows us how to do the same. Like Mary and Martha, he must choose the best thing…to come sit at the feet of God and listen.
So, he prays.
Our verse today reminds us that Jesus OFTEN withdrew from the daily work to draw closer to God. He prayed in quiet and lonely places. He drew away from others in order to draw nearer to God. Sometimes we are told what he prayed, other times, like in today’s verse, we are not. His prayers are personal and private. Jesus prayed before making decisions (Luke 6:12). He privately prays before the transfiguration (Luke 9). And he prays publicly-teaching us to pray (Luke 11), praying for our protection (Luke 22), and for our salvation (Luke 23).
In the gospels, we see a great example in Jesus of the practice of prayer…in all circumstances. We see that although his work here among us was his focus, in order to stay connected and near to the Father, he made the priority of prayer. We, too, must draw away from our life business, even in the midst of the work we know God has called us to do, and draw closer to Him. It is there we will find the strength and peace to continue our work. It is in this deep drawing near that we will be given the power, provision, and purpose he has for us.
Let us close today with the prayer Jesus taught us:
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.