In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Paul pens the inspired words, “Pray without ceasing.” As Christians it should be one of our main priorities to pray. Oswald Chambers said, “We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defense. We pray when there’s nothing else we can do, but God wants us to pray before we do anything at all.” Christians in America today, seem to lack the power that can only come from prayer. The Bible has many great examples of prayer, from the Pharisee and the Publican, to Jesus Christ the Son of God. Jesus is the perfect example to believers of prayer.
In the ministry of Jesus, He was not only teaching the disciples how to pray (Matt. 6:9-13), but He was also giving them an example of how to pray. In Mark 1:35 the Bible records for us, “And in the morning, rising up a great while before the day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” In Mark 1, leading up to this verse the Bible records the temptation of Christ, Jesus preaching in Galilee, the call of Simon, Andrew, James, and John, and devils cast out, as well as many healed in Capernaum including Peter’s Mother-in-Law.
This was the near the beginning of Jesus ministry, and Mark 1:28 reads, “And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee.” Jesus had a fan club from His miracles, but in His humility He still prayed to God the Father. Mark 1:35 reveals two truths about Jesus prayer life while He was on the Earth: Jesus made prayer a priority, and Jesus made prayer private.
In the first half of Mark 1:35, the Bible records, “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out”. This reveals that before Jesus did anything else, He prayed. The Sweet Psalmist David under inspiration wrote Psalm 5:3, “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” David understood the importance of prayer. If prayer is to be the Christian’s first line of defense, we must make prayer a priority when we start out our day. Jesus, while being tempted by Satan, said, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Prayer should be more of a priority than breakfast, lunch, or dinner!
Charles Spurgeon once said, “It is a good rule never to look into the face of a man in the morning till you have looked into the face of God.” As Christians, we must make prayer a priority! Today many people would say they cannot be talked to without their morning coffee, but what about their morning conversation with their Lord?
Jesus also prayed before the major events in His life. Luke 3:21-22 records that Jesus prayed during His own baptism. It reads, “Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened up, And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.” Jesus also prayed just before He was taken and given a mock trial.
In the second half of Mark 1:35, the Bible records, “he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” The Greek word for solitary literally means a desert. This would be a lonely place because people would not go into the desert unless they had to travel. This verse shows us an example from the Lord of private prayer. Even in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke on the topic of private prayer. Matthew 6:5-6 record, “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to the Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”
Jesus was not teaching that corporate prayer is wrong, but if that is the only time a Christian prays then there is a problem. Jesus very clearly taught that private prayer is important by giving Christians an example to learn from. If we as Christians only pray in church or with other believers we are missing a key ingredient in our walk with the Lord.
The church needs prayer warriors. Prayer should be the Christian’s first line of defense, not a last resort. The Bible is very clear in the sixty-six books that make it up prayer is vital to a close walk with the Lord. If the church made private, individual prayer a priority, then the Lord would empower the church to carry out the Great Commission, and to make a difference similar to the apostles in the book of Acts. We must make prayer a priority, it starts with me, and it starts with you. Will you follow Jesus’ example of private prayer, and make prayer a priority in your own life?