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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.
The Bible makes a number of references to Jesus going off alone to pray. This let him spend quality time with the Father, away from his closest friends, his disciples, away from the questioning of his authority by the Pharisees, and away from the crowds making demands on his time for teaching and his energy for miraculous healing. Mark tells us in 5:30 that Jesus realized that power had gone out from him when He was touched by the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years but was healed upon touching his cloak.
Some Christians do not fully understand or appreciate the power of prayer and only resort to it when they have ‘no practical solution’: it’s an afterthought. Jesus proves that the truth about prayer is just the opposite; pray about something and a ‘practical solution’ will present itself: by his example, Jesus demonstrates the importance of preparing ourselves, through prayer.
Our relationship with God is no different to our relationship with our friends, families or work colleagues. To get the most from any relationship we have to communicate to be heard, to listen and perhaps to act accordingly. And this is what prayer is all about - a two-way communication with God.
We may be forgiven for thinking that we can't find time to pray: after all Jesus did not have to contend with 24-hour television, mobile phones, emails, Facebook, texts or tweets and on top of all of these distractions we still have to go to work, to school, look after our children… But Jesus didn’t just 'find' the time to pray: he 'made' the time and the more time he spent in prayer the stronger his relationship with the Father was.
Spend some time alone with God in prayer.
If time is short, simply acknowledge his presence.
It you are not sure what to pray, use the words that Jesus himself gave to his disciples, the Lord’s Prayer:
Our Father in Heaven,
Hallowed be your Name,
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done,
On earth as in Heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
As we forgive those
Who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
And the glory are yours
Now and for ever.
Father, I pray that our relationship grows stronger as I acknowledge your presence each day in all things things I do.
I give you thanks for your forgiveness when I fail to recognize you; and I praise you Lord for all of the prayers that have been answered in your name and to your glory.
Night Sky over the Cotswold Way © Terry Richer