A few weeks ago my husband asked me to share my favorite passages on prayer. A few weeks ago we also entered an unexpected time of transition for our family (Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em: Confessions of a First Time Foster Mom) and for the church where my husband serves as Senior Pastor. We were still processing major decisions when a midnight call prompted an emergency flight to Florida where our niece faced an uphill fight for her life after a freak para-sailing accident. As I sit down for the first time now and review this nearly finished post on prayer from what seems like a lifetime ago, I’m blown away at God’s perfect timing. I never planned to face what we have the last few weeks, but reading back my own words I can see His unmistakable hand of preparation! How comforting it is to know we are cared for by One who is never taken by surprise and can speak a peace that surpasses all understanding into every situation we face. May we never take for granted the awesome privilege we have in connecting with the Creator of the Universe through prayer!
“One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13 When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: 14 Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, 15 Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.” Luke 6:12-16
I have always loved the image of Christ, the Son of God, retreating from ministry for times of intentional prayer. As a Pastor’s wife I often face the dilemma of discerning between the many good things pulling for my attention. I learned early on that I cannot be everything to everyone, and no matter how may needs I fill, there’s always a new one opening up. If the Son of God needed time away from His ministry to connect with His Father, this imperfect, impatient woman most certainly needs to prioritize intentional times of prayer!!
I believe it is no coincidence that this particular all-night prayer time preceded the choosing of the twelve disciples. The men Christ singled out directly impacted the ministry before Him and we have much to learn from His sincere seeking of His Father’s will above His own in making such a significant decision. I wonder how much of the night was spent in seeking God’s answer, and how much was spent in reconciling Himself to the answer He received. Did He question God’s pick of Peter, the short-fused fisherman? What about doubting Thomas? I wonder how He responded to God’s choice in Judas, the one who would betray him. Sometimes prayer is spent seeking God’s discernment in decisions, and sometimes it is reconciling our hearts to accept the answer He gives, especially when it may seem so very far from what we had hoped for.
My second favorite passage on prayer is a bit lengthier, but you can read the full section in Matthew 14:22-33. After miraculously feeding five thousand people with a few loaves of bread and fish, Christ withdraws to the mountainside for some solitude to seek His Father in prayer. If ever there was a night to just go to bed instead, I imagine this would have been it! Instead of turning to the television or a late night snack or just falling into bed after such an exhausting day, however, Christ refreshed Himself in prayer. What a powerful example!
Christ made prayer a priority, even on the busy days, and for good reason! First, God is the true restorer of our weary souls! Secondly, He knows what surprises await us. After spending time in prayer that night, Christ did not get the chance to head to bed before ministry called His name again. As if feeding five thousand people were not enough, this night would not end until He literally walked across the angry waves of stormy waters and spoke peace into the raging winds. The past few weeks we have faced monumental decisions. We have also survived exhausting days in the midst of those heavy decisions only to find ourselves surrounded by the storm. When God beckons our hearts to connect with Him in prayer, He always has a reason. He knows what your soul needs at the end of a draining day; He also know what your heart needs to hear today to handle what you may not see coming tomorrow.
If He is whispering to your heart, heed His call! Yes, your bed may be calling your name, yes your schedule may be overloaded as is, but He knows when you’re about to face a situation that requires faith to step out of the boat and walk on water. Prayer is part of the way He readies us for those times. Don’t miss a chance to be strengthened before the storm!