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Jesus prayed a lot

May 3, 2023

Daily Scripture

Mark 1:35; Matthew 14:23; Luke 5:16, 11:1-4

Mark 1

35 Early in the morning, well before sunrise, Jesus rose and went to a deserted place where he could be alone in prayer.

Matthew 14

23 When he sent them away, he went up onto a mountain by himself to pray. Evening came and he was alone.

Luke 5

16 But Jesus would withdraw to deserted places for prayer.

Luke 11

1 Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
2 Jesus told them, “When you pray, say:
‘Father, uphold the holiness of your name.
Bring in your kingdom.
3 Give us the bread we need for today.
4 Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who has wronged us.
And don’t lead us into temptation.’”

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Jesus prayed—often. Sometimes we think prayer is just a way to make God aware of things that we want (and that we apparently assume God won’t know about unless we tell him). Jesus even voiced one of the reasons some folks give for not praying—“your Father knows what you need before you ask” (Matthew 6:8). But he didn’t see that as a reason not to pray. Right after that, in Matthew 6:9-13, he taught his disciples the Lord’s Prayer.

  • In these gospel descriptions of Jesus praying, what do you notice about the timing, the settings in which he chose to pray, or the frequency or intensity of Jesus’ prayers? Have you ever felt as though “I can’t get to a deserted place, or stay up all night—I guess I can’t pray?” God is with you wherever and whenever. When do you pray? Where? How often? How can you learn from Jesus’ prayer patterns without making them an obstacle to building your own?
  • If filling God in on your needs and wishes isn’t the only (or even main) reason to pray, why does it matter to pray? How do you respond to the idea that prayer is often less about changing God and more about opening yourself to God? Phillip Yancey wrote, “The simplest answer to the question ‘Why pray?’ is ‘Because Jesus did.’” * What do you miss if you don’t pray? If Jesus needed to pray, why would any of us think we don’t?

Lord Jesus, I love you. It doesn’t make sense to say I love you, and then never talk to you. Thank you for listening when I pray. Thank you that, if I am quiet, sometimes you speak in the deep silence of my heart and mind. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Jennifer Creager

Jennifer Creager

Jennifer Creagar is the Community Assistance Coordination Director in Resurrection's Congregational Care Ministry. She is married and loves spending time with her family, and she enjoys writing and photography.

I was born in Oklahoma, and almost all my extended family lives there. My husband and kids laugh and tell me that they always know when I have been talking on the phone to one of my Oklahoma cousins, or my brother, who now lives in Arkansas, because suddenly the accent of my “first language” appears and lasts for a day or two.

We all pick up things from our environment. Accents, ideas, good thoughts and bad. Holy inspiration and earthbound prejudice. Fear and frustration. Hope and gratitude. I think that’s why prayer is so important to the life of anyone who follows Jesus. We need that time talking and listening to God, in order for our voice, our thoughts, and our actions to be more like Jesus and less like the world around us.

Jesus knew this. Surrounded by questions, complaints, heartbreaking need, and the sound of a thousand voices, he knew the importance of getting away and spending real, focused time with God. He went up to the mountain alone, he withdrew himself to deserted places – all to meet with God and get back in touch with his father’s love, thoughts, and guidance. If Jesus needed it, how much more do we? We are instructed to “pray without ceasing,” and that is one kind of on-going conversation with God at every moment of the day. But there is also the kind of prayer that draws us to a quiet place. In that place, instead of offering our daily list of needs, wants, fears and frustrations, we pause to listen in silence for God’s voice speaking to our hearts. In that set-aside time and place, God cares for us in the deepest corners of our spirit – the corners we might be hiding when we pray using many words, hoping no one, especially God, ever sees what’s there. 

Silence can be scary, and many of us are used to filling quiet with noise or activity. A lot of us, when faced with silence, just fall asleep or fidget, unable to focus. I’m one of those people, and I can tell you two things: (1) it is pretty hard to fall asleep while you are walking, so taking your deserted place to the road can be a good thing, and (2) if you feel fidgety, find something to do with your hands, and free up your mind and heart. My grandmother considered time in the garden sacred and spent her praying and listening time pulling weeds and planting flowers. I doodle or knit. Give yourself grace and time to get used to listening and connecting to God’s grace and longing to sit with you. Every minute of prayer and listening won’t result in a life-changing revelation or radical solution to a problem. Sometimes the result of sitting with God is peace and a quieted spirit. In that quiet time, you can pick up God’s “accent” and move back out into the world speaking in love and gratitude for God’s presence in your life.

Lord God, I want everyone around me to know that I’ve been spending time with you by the words I speak and the love behind them. Help me connect and refresh with you, learning to listen and rest in your presence, so that I can carry your “accent” out into the world. Amen.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Phillip Yancey, Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008, p. 78.