“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! Pray like this:
Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.
But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.
Jesus spent three years with the apostles helping them to grow and have the tools or rhythms they would need to sustain them through what would come next. One of the most important rhythms they would learn about was prayer. Jesus taught both in words and practice, that prayer is really about the posture of your heart as you intentionally seek time alone with God.
They would learn that prayer wasn’t a tool to show how spiritual they were to the world but something they needed in order to be as close to God as possible. Prayer enabled them to seek and offer forgiveness, to give thanks, to acknowledge God’s sovereignty in their lives, to guard their hearts, and to seek God on behalf of others. They would come to know prayer as a resting place away from the world; a place of renewal and restoration, strength and perseverance in ministry and in life, just as Jesus had. And they would need that as they traveled spreading the gospel of Jesus’ death and resurrection. They would need it as they faced great persecution because of their beliefs. They would need it as they sought to serve and heal the poor and disabled along the way. Growing in the practice and rhythm of prayer enabled them to go when called, with great power and sustainability.
The apostles needed prayer in order to be who Jesus called them to be…and so do we. How does your prayer life reflect the seasons of growing and going for which God is preparing you? How can you be more intentional about setting aside time to seek God’s guidance and call for what is next in your life?