If you are a follower of Jesus, you know that we are told to pray. Over and over in the New Testament, we are given the command and provided incentives for talking to our Father in Heaven.
“Never stop praying.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NLT)
“But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!” – John 15:7 (NLT)
But, we are also compelled from the inside to pray. We have at least an embryonic desire to spend time talking to our Lord.
If we are honest, though, we would have to admit that we don’t pray nearly as much as we know we should. The tension between what we know we should do and what we actually do creates a sense of guilt.
Well, friend, God doesn’t want us to live in guilt. He wants us to live in freedom and in grace. And that freedom and grace should help us to follow Him in even greater ways.
So, let’s talk about prayer for the next few moments. What are some principles that can help us have a better time with the Lord? Particularly, in a very busy and noisy world, how can we have a meaningful time with the Lord?
We see some answers to that last question in a passage of Scripture I read a few moments ago.
Mark 1:35–39 (ESV) “35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, 37 and they found him and said to him, ‘Everyone is looking for you.’ 38 And he said to them, ‘Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.’ 39 And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.”
Principle 1: Life is noisy so consider praying early in the morning.
People were constantly vying for Jesus’ attention. He couldn’t go anywhere without a crowd gathering around Him. So, He took measures to limit distractions.
“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” – Mark 1:35
To a lesser extent, life may feel horribly distracting to us, too. There are family needs. A demanding job. Phone calls. Errands to run. A daily task list that never gets completed.
So, if we are going to find time to pray, we probably need to get up early, like Jesus. Set your alarm clock and get up earlier than anyone else in your house – even if that means “while it was still dark.”
Principle 2: Life is noisy so find a quiet place away from everyone and everything.
Jesus didn’t simply get up early – he also “departed and went out to a desolate place.” A.K.A. – no distractions!
We know what distraction are. In our crazy world filled with rings, pings, notification notices, and so much more, there is a constant barrage of interruptions.
So, while we don’t necessarily have to go for a long walk to find “a desolate place,” we need to find a way to get rid of unnecessary distractions. Turn your phone off. Stay off your computer. Get away from anything and anyone who might interrupt your time with the Lord. Maybe you need to go outside and sit on the back porch. Maybe you need to hop in the car and go for a drive … or a prayer walk.
Just do the best you can at trying to minimize distractions when you pray.
Principle 3: Don’t let life’s demands dictate your schedule.
As we read the account of Jesus’ prayer time, we can’t help but feel sorry for Him. He went out early in the morning to a desolate place to pray. He did everything He could to get alone and talk to His Father.
And yet the following happened…
“And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, ‘Everyone is looking for you.’ And he said to them, ‘Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.'” – Mark 1:36-38
Essentially, Peter showed up and tried to dictate Jesus’ schedule. Peter was calling Jesus’ prayer time to a halt and pointing to things He was expected to do that day. But, we notice that Jesus simply said “no” to the expectations.
Sometimes, when our prayer time is interrupted, we may need to deal with the distraction and get back to praying. Sometimes, the interruption will bring our prayer time to a halt.
But, what we see in Jesus’ example is that we don’t have to say “yes” to demands that others place upon us. It’s OK to say “no” and get back to praying if we desire.
Principle 4: Realize that power in life is fueled by your prayer time.
It is no coincidence that Mark 1:39 shows up after Jesus’ time in prayer.
“And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.” – Mark 1:39
Simply put, Jesus’ power in Mark 1:39 came from His prayer time. Because He was getting energized by spending time with His Father, He was able to do the things His Father required of Him.
Do you lack power in your life? Are there stubborn sin patterns that you cannot get rid of? Is there something you believe God has led you to do that you feel incapable of doing?
Well, here’s another question: “How’s your prayer life?”
You see, if your prayer life is lagging, you should also expect that your spiritual power will follow suite. But, if you have a vibrant prayer life, look for vibrancy in your life.
So, spend daily time in prayer. Follow Jesus’ example. Find a time and place where you will not be disturbed. And as you commune with your Father, watch to see how He works in and through you the rest of your day.