So often we think of prayer as a way to get our needs met, but it’s so much more than that.
As we continue our week on prayer, we’re going to explore how prayer positions us to experience the presence and grace of God. So often we think of prayer as a way to get our needs met, but it’s so much more than that. So today, let’s ask God to teach us how to become people of prayer so we can experience his best as we move throughout each day.
Jesus has just had a very busy day.
He had taught in the synagogue at Capernaum (Mark 1:21), where he healed a man with an unclean spirit (vv. 22–28). After the service, he went to Peter’s home, where he healed Peter’s mother-in-law (vv. 29–31).
Then, Scripture says that “at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And the whole city was gathered together at the door” (vv. 32–33). In response, Jesus “healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons” (v. 34).
But now it’s the next morning. Does Jesus sleep in? Does he take the day off?
Hardly: Mark 1:35 says that “rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.”.
This was his pattern. He prayed “early in the morning” and late at night (Matthew 14:23). One time he prayed “all night” (Luke 6:12). He prayed before meals (Matthew 14:19) and before temptation (Matthew 26:36). He prayed “by himself” (Matthew 14:23) and with crowds (Matthew 14:19). Why?
Jesus understood that prayer positions us to experience God’s best. It is the means by which we connect directly with our Lord. When we read devotionals like this one, we are reading about God. When we listen to sermons, we are hearing about God. But when we pray, we are talking to God.
A carpenter must touch the wood he intends to shape. A surgeon must touch the body she intends to heal. When we pray, God “gets his hands on us.”
This is why continual prayer is taught so consistently throughout Scripture:
- 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray without ceasing.”
-Colossians 4:2 tells us to “continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.”
-And Romans 12:12 calls us to “rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”
Jesus was clear about this as well in Matthew 7:7: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” A more literal translation of the original Greek language would say, “Ask and keep on asking . . . seek and keep on seeking . . . knock and keep on knocking.”
It’s not that persistent prayer “wears God out,” but it positions us to experience his presence and receive his grace.
So let’s respond today and position ourselves before the presence and grace of God as we spend time in guided prayer.
today’s devotional is written by Jim Denison
1. Meditate on Jesus’ early morning prayer with his Father. Reflect on how even Jesus, the son of God, needed to pull away from the busyness of life to pray. Think about how you can find time and space to connect with God at the beginning of each day.
“O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch” (Psalm 5:3).
2. Reflect on Jesus’ decision not only to start but also to end his days with his Father. Think about how you can spend a few moments with God at the end of your day and share the joys and challenges you walked through. Maybe you can pick a specific time to pray with your family, or set a reminder on your phone to help point you to prayer in the evening. The important thing is to find those moments to simply stay connected.
“When you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:6).
3. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you make prayer a lifestyle. Walk through your day practicing the presence of Jesus by talking with him, listening to him, and thinking about him. Ask him to reveal his presence to you all through the day.
“Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!” (1 Chronicles 16:11).
As we noted yesterday, one of the best ways we can serve others is by praying for them, asking our omnipotent God to meet needs we cannot meet. We can make this intercession a lifestyle, turning every problem we face into prayer. We can develop the reflex of praying at the moment the fear or challenge arises. And God will use us to bless those we know in ways we may never know on this side of eternity.
Samuel assured those he served, “Far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you” (1 Samuel 12:23). Who needs your prayer today?
We can make this intercession a lifestyle, turning every problem we face into prayer.