Our Strength Comes From Prayer
For me, Thursdays are particularly busy, but in a good way. After morning service, I go on the Grouse Grind, go to Bible study, then go to soccer in the evening. It’s sometimes difficult, but the coffee and desert on the top of Grouse Mountain is wonderful. It’s a time to recharge – both physically and mentally.
But consider for a moment the life of Jesus. He spent his time healing and encouraging the sick. He taught the word of God. He spread out his ministry during a time where there were no cars. How then did Jesus recharge himself? The short answer of course is prayer. Prayer not only recharges one’s spiritual strength, but physical strength as well. Our strength comes from prayer.
Our passage today takes place in the span of 2 days. Earlier, Jesus had taught and healed a man possessed by demons. Then he went to Peter’s house to heal Peter’s mother-in-law. Then he healed a large crowd of people. I’m sure that we can all imagine how demanding of a day this was for Jesus. He must have met with several hundred people. Meeting people causes people to expend spiritual and physical energy.
But verse 35 reads, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”
We have no doubt that Jesus was probably very tired from the previous day’s work. But we awoke early the next morning and went off to pray at a solitary place. He did this because he gained strength through his fellowship with God the Father. The source of strength in ministry comes from prayer. Our strength comes from God.
Consider Exodus 15:2 which reads, ““The Lord is my strength and my defense[a]; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.”
We also note Psalm 18:1, “I love you, Lord, my strength.”
Finally, consider Psalm 46:1 which reads, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”
What did prayer mean to Jesus? It’s difficult to pray if one merely thinks of it as a duty. But for Jesus, prayer was rest. It was a time to draw strength from God. Jesus prayed and recovered from a stressful day. When he slept at night, he probably did so in eager anticipation of praying to God the next morning.
Prayer is strength. Our strength comes from prayer. The strength to carry on ministry also comes from prayer.
For example, when one prepares a sermon, God must provide grace to that person and that grace is poured on to the person during prayer. The same goes for leading church cell or group. These tasks must be completed by the strength that God gives to those who pray, not through one’s effort or skill.
Martin Luther once said that he was becoming increasingly busier. Therefore, he figured that he had to pray more.
When we read this passage, we might wonder why Jesus chose the morning as his time of prayer. The answer is that the morning is the obvious start of our day. The early morning is quiet and free of distractions so that one can have fellowship with God. For us, our days are often so busy that the morning is the only time that we can pray for any extended duration.
In verses 36 and 37, some of the apostles look for Jesus and tell Jesus that everyone is looking for him. For by this point, Jesus had become quite a well-known person. But let’s examine Jesus’ reaction to all this. In verse 38 Jesus decides to move to other ‘nearby villages’ so that he can preach. When Jesus’ popularity was at its highest, he avoided that place. For us, we need to be careful when we find ourselves in situations where we have access to power or receive compliments from others. Because of sin, we tend become arrogant whenever we are in situations such as this. We must ensure that all glory goes to God. How then can we ensure that we are ready to give up fame and power in order to fulfill God’s mission for us? The answer is that prayer gives us the necessary strength. Prayer gives us the strength to submit ourselves to God so that we can fulfill His will rather than our own. Prayer is something that begins with our individual hopes, but ends with the will of God.
Jesus lived a life of winning people to God, proclaiming His word, and teaching. Every one of us has a purpose that God has given, but how will we know what that purpose is and how to see it through? It’s through prayer that we get to know our purpose and also how to succeed in it. Why? Because God must give us the strength to accomplish it. Jesus also prayed. Our strength comes through prayer. Let us gain strength through prayer for God’s glory.