Prayer Is A Privilege For Believers
Mark 6:45, 46
45And straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people. 46And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray.
Luke 5:15, 16
15But so much the more went there a fame abroad of him: and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities. 16And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.
Luke 6:12, 13
12And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. 13And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;
Matthew 6:6 (Jesus speaking)
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
Matthew 7:24 (Jesus speaking)
Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
John 5:24 (Jesus speaking)
24Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
John 5:39 (Jesus speaking)
39Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
John 8:31, 32 (Jesus speaking)
31Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
2 Peter 1:10, 11
10Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 3:18
But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
Jesus provides the perfect example of a balanced life. From His birth, He combined the mental, physical and social with the spiritual. He developed the skills of a carpenter, studied Scripture, debated in the synagogue and took part in the festivities of weddings. He prayed publicly, but He also prayed alone.
Prayer is a privilege for believers. Millions of people in India, even to the highest in office, must enlist a Brahman (bra-min), a Hindu, a man of honor in their eyes, to say prayers for them. Imagine the frustration when urgent needs arise, and you could not tell God yourself.
Thank God, Christians can enter confidently into prayer and there are no limits to restrict our communication with God. He doesn’t say, “I just answered your prayer yesterday.” We are welcome to call upon Him as many times as we would like. His line is never too busy. He knows each of us by name. Our private time alone with the Lord is valuable and we are challenged in this lesson today to pray often and daily.
In Mark 6 Jesus took His disciples to a desert place for rest following a time of intense ministry and after hearing of John’s death. A large crowd followed them and after several hours of teaching them, Jesus fed them. In response to this miracle, the multitude intended to take Him by force and make Him King. He quickly avoided such political activity.
John 6:14, 15
14Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world. 15When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.
After the feeding of the 5,000 Jesus told the disciples to get into a boat and go ahead of Him, across the Sea of Galilee to the town of Bethsaida. After they left, Jesus sent the multitude away. Then Jesus departed into a mountain to pray. Rest and renewal were His first priority on His evening schedule. Personal devotion was so important that He stopped in the midst of ministry to take time to be alone with the Heavenly Father.
A storm lay just ahead. The believer mustn’t allow either blessing or storm to hinder him from personal devotion. The crowds and their needs were great; nevertheless, Jesus felt the need to pray.
Personal devotion is an act which the believer must initiate himself. No one else can make possible your devotion time. You have to draw yourself away just as Jesus did.
Luke 6, Verse 1 states “He continued all night in prayer to God.” Personal devotion during times of oppression is essential in order to keep one’s focus on God. It is important to notice, though, that Jesus did not substitute spiritual activity for prayer. Even as great as His miracles were, He still needed to regularly commune with His Father.
Many times, we allow the pressure of the day or the demands of others to keep us from spending time in the Word and in communion with God. Just as Jesus kept His spiritual priorities in order, so must we. We must not allow the urgent to interfere with the important eternal things.
It may seem that some demands lay claim to every waking moment of our lives, but we must make time for private prayer. Although Jesus had so much compassion that He ministered to all who came to Him, He also needed at times to withdraw from the demands of His ministry to be alone with God. These times of retreat were not to escape the burden of ministering to the needs of others. They were times for Him to be renewed and refreshed spiritually so He could continue His ministry. It is good and important to spend time in the company of other people and to worship together, but times of solitude with God in private devotion help prepare us for public life in service to God.
In Matthew 6:6, above, in His sermon on the mount Jesus indicated the importance of prayer. We must have the proper attitude when we pray. He told us where to pray: in secret, to shut ourselves away from distractions, to be alone with God.
Jesus said that those who pray to be seen have their reward, the honor of others, but those who pray in secret, the Father rewards openly. When the storms of life surround us, we will stand firm on the Solid Rock, Jesus Christ.
One of the purposes of daily devotions is to produce spiritual maturity. Although salvation is a free gift, we still have a part to play in our “spiritual growth.” While spiritual maturity is a product of our relationship with Christ, it does not come automatically. It must be pursued with diligence.
By being faithful and diligent, we then will be fruitful and stable in our Christian walk with the Lord. Sometimes we leave a trail of unfinished tasks. Despite our best intentions we have stacks of unread literature, unironed laundry and unpulled weeds yet the most important task, our spiritual growth, must not be neglected.
Since Jesus Christ has commanded that we have a personal devotional life patterned after His example, to be His disciples we must obey Him in this matter. Whether to have or not have a personal devotional life is not optional for a disciple of Jesus. It is an imperative, an absolute necessity.
There are times in the Christian’s life that is “springtime,” when God leads us to a spiritual mountain to spend time alone with Him. We are alone under His watchful eye and then a winter season comes to our lives and chases us down the mountain and into the valley, but only for a season. Another “spring” will come to our lives and with it an opportunity to follow the Lord to a new spiritual plateau.
2 Peter 1:10, 11 (referenced above) teaches us that the works of God in our lives will not remain if we do not consistently and urgently seek to be faithful in our devotion to Him. The believer is called and elected by God. Jesus said for us to make our calling and election sure. Peter ends his 2nd epistle/letter, which was written to combat heresy, by reminding the reader of the nature of the Christian’s walk.
The believer is commanded to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. Like a plant, if the Christian is not in the process of dying to self, the Lord commands faithful prayer and searching of the Scriptures, as noted in John 5:39, referenced above.
In this section of Scripture, the role of Christ was being questioned by the Pharisees. They felt they could approach the Father on their own. They had developed elaborate systems of laws and traditions which they monopolized and used in a prideful way.
The way of Christ is one of ultimate humility and obedience. He alone is the way unto the Father in our personal devotions. We cannot come to the Father in prayer and devotion solely through our own ability. Devotions to God are dependent on the work of Christ in one’s life. There are many things that “outfit the Christian” for the devotional life, one being that the devotional life will be demonstrated in effective relationships with others.
Let’s determine today to begin to spend time with God daily. Each day set aside a time without distractions in which to be alone with Him. Open your heart. Tell Him your burdens. Intercede for others. Allow Him to speak to you through His Word; you then will soon discover a new dimension to your spiritual walk and you will enjoy being with Him in prayer. You will sense God’s help and strength in a new way.