In the name of Jesus, I am blessed. My Lord, I delight in Your law, and on Your law I meditate day and night. I am like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever I do prospers. Jesus, You have been made unto me wisdom, righteousness, and sanctification, and I enjoy living in the way of truth. Thank You, Lord, for watching over the way of the righteous. Heavenly Father, may my prayer be set before You like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice. Thank You for the Holy Spirit who helps me maintain an attitude of prayer, and helps me when I don't know how or what to pray. Thank You for hearing me whether I'm praying aloud or reaching out to You in silence. Jesus, You are my example in prayer, and whatever I ask for in prayer, I believe that it is granted me. In the name of Jesus and with the help of the Holy Spirit, I will "pray without ceasing." I love to be alone with You, Lord. Father God, bless my time alone with You and my Savior. Bless my time to not have distractions, and no interruption during my time alone with you. This I pray in Jesus' name. AMEN.
Lesson 3: Jesus prayed alone.
Scriptures: Matthew 6:6, Mark 1:35, Matthew 14:23, Luke 5:16, Luke 6:12, Luke 9:18, Luke 22:39-41; Let us also read Psalm 103.
We have touch a little on the subject of solitary prayer, now let look closely because it is very important concerning our prayer life.
Solitary prayer was a habit for Jesus. It was typical of his life. As the scriptures say it was a "custom" or "usual" (Luke 22:39) for Jesus to go the Mount of Olives and to other deserted places to pray.
Prayer for Jesus was not some issue tucked on the periphery of his life; prayer was at the center of his life. Jesus prayed because he needed to pray. Which would beg the question of us: If Jesus needed prayer, why do we think that we can get along without it? We need to treat prayer as a first priority not as a last resort. Solitary prayer avoids attention, spiritual pride, showing off. (See Matthew 6:5-6.)
Why does Jesus model solitary prayer? All of us are susceptible to attention, spiritual pride, and showing off. Pride is an issue in each of our lives. For example, when I rose early in the morning to run I wanted people to know so I would always squeeze that bit of information into conversations. It was my way of drawing attention to myself, exerting my pride, showing off. It was my way of saying, "See what I did," with an underlying but unstated question, "Did you get up to run early this morning?" (By the way, I still run but I don't let people know about it. God has delivered me from the sin or pretension.)
When we pray with others it is easy to pray to others, thinking it matters more to us what they think than what God thinks. When we pray alone it avoids this pitfall. If we pray where people see us, we are prone to enjoy the attention. Isn't this the warning Jesus gives in Matthew 6:5- 6?
Solitary prayer avoids distractions. People can get in the way of communion with God. AMEN. We become distracted. A child needs our attention. The phone rings. The television is blaring. The activities of the day scream for immediate attention. Jesus had a geographical cure to the distractions to his time with God. (See Luke 4:42, Luke 5:15-16.) He got away from the crowds. It is both practical and wise to find an undistracted time and place to pray, just like good students who have a special place to study. The best students know that if they have a special place reserved for study, they become conditioned to study every time they sit at that desk. They can concentrate better and focus on the work at hand. So it is with prayer. Praying in bed is a case in point. The bed is a place where we sleep. If we pray while lying in bed, usually it is a short prayer. I don't know about you, but I have a tendency to fall asleep. But, when we kneel beside our bed, which by the way is a great posture for prayer that becomes the only activity we do in that place helping us to concentrate and focus our attention in prayer.
Consider for a moment, if you have not found your geographical solitary place, where would be a good place to pray? If we want to pray like Jesus we would be well advised to get alone, finding a private place, free from distractions to spend uninterrupted time with God. But, please remember prayer is good anywhere as long as our hearts is attentive to God and His will for our lives. Sometimes, I pray while I am driving, but I like to pray most of the time in the morning during "My Daily Quiet Time with God."
Meditation is very beneficial spiritually, mentally, and physically; Meditation is deep contemplation or reflection that will bring the Word of God from your head to your heart. This form of discipline helps me stay focused on eternal things and gives me insight into Scripture. Just as it says in Psalm 103, my energy is increased and my youth is renewed. In these quiet moments, I hear the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. I purpose in my heart and mind that the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart will be acceptable to my Lord. In my quiet time with God, I love to be alone, no distractions.
Do you have a closet of prayer? I don't mean an actual clothes closet (though that could do) but, rather - do you have a habit of shutting yourself in with God?
To have a "secret closet" means simply to be shut in with God anywhere, anytime - giving quality, chosen time to yearn after Him, seek Him and call on His name.
"Prayer closet" means "prayer habit." Do you have a daily practice of getting alone with God? That is what the prayer closet is all about - practice. It is about disciplining yourself to come before God - to answer when the Spirit's wooing calls you. It means having a heart that says, "I must get alone with God - I must talk with my Father today!" The kind of prayer I'm talking about has to do with intimacy with God -- aloneness with Him! Jesus warned against hypocrisy in prayer. He drew a dramatic distinction between those who seek God in the secret closet, and those who pray so they can be seen by others as holy!
Hypocrites are actors - people who act holy to receive the praises of others. Jesus said there are many such actors in His church: "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" (Matthew 6:5).
Our flesh loves to be applauded and complimented. But God can't use our flesh - that is, our sinful nature - because our flesh can't be remodeled or sanctified. When we're born again, God does away with our flesh; He makes us new creatures in His Spirit. Our flesh has to be totally cast off and left to die! Yet the flesh can be seen at work in us when we do things for God but can't understand why others don't appreciate it. Our flesh wants our trumpet blown! "They [hypocrites] love to pray" - or so they want you to believe! They pray in church, they go to prayer meetings - but they have no prayer habit! They do not shut themselves up in prayer, alone with their Father.
"I remember hearing about one pastor's reputation as a man of prayer. People told me, "He prays eight hours a day." I thought, "Wow! He must be some preacher. I'd like to meet him!" I did meet this man - and I sensed nothing different about him whatsoever. Then it dawned on me: If he was spending eight hours a day in prayer, people would have known it simply by the changes in his character. But there were no changes! Obviously, they knew about his long vigils only because he had told them - he had, blown his own trumpet!" Beloved, God does not hear even a word of the prayers of hypocrites -because those prayers were never meant for His ears! And Jesus says they have no reward from the Father! Yet in this message, I am not just talking about hypocrites - but about good, honest, believing Christians.
I am truly shocked at how few believers do not practice a wonderful, daily communion with the Lord. The vast majority pray only in church and at meals, with perhaps a few quick words to God before going to bed. They have no habit of prayer - that is, until a crisis strikes, and then they are quick to bow their heads!
I can't help but feel a holy anger rise up in me when someone says, "Brother Dave, you have to pray because it's your job. It's your calling as a preacher. But I'm not in the ministry - I'm not called to that."
No! The habit of daily drawing near to God is meant for every one of us! The reason so many Christians don't have power in their lives is because they don't have a prayer life. They pray maybe once a week, or whenever they feel like it. Beloved, there is absolutely no power in haphazard on-again-off-again praying! "Thy Father...seeth in secret" (Matthew 6:6). God sees in secret - into the very depths of your heart! He sees your lack of interest. He sees you giving plenty of time to things you think are necessary - to friends, to wasting hours in front of a TV. And He sees you coming to Him as an afterthought - or only out of conviction or self-condemnation! Its prayer time, my friends! God will honor it.
The secret closet is any place where a child of God shuts out the world - and shuts himself in alone with God, to seek Him and pray!
Week # 3 PRIVATE DEVOTIONS TIME: Evening Devotion (Mark 6:45-46)
"45 And straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people. 46 And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray."
Week # 3 NOTABLE PRAYERS: Jacob (Genesis 32:9-12; 24)
"9 And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the Lord which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee:
10 I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands.
11 Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children.12 And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude." "24 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day."
Week # 3 QUESTIONS:
1). Why did Jesus model solitary prayer?
2). What is deep contemplation or reflection that will bring God's Word from the head to the heart?
3). In Jacob time alone with God, (Genesis 32:13-28) the angel said Jacob prevailed; Explain what the angel meant.
Week # 3 PRAYER FOCUS:
To be persist in prayer and my time before God. To be confident that He hears me. As I pray, let Him work in my heart and circumstances.
Week # 3 Prayer Request:
Pray for our leaders to seek solutions for our communities and nation that can only come from the Lord; (Psalm 33:12)
Week # 3 APPLY IT: A Daily Quiet Time with God
Lord, make me mindful of my words. Make me a powerful source of encouragement to those in need, and let my words and deeds be worthy of Your Son, the One who gives me courage and strength for this day and for all eternity. If I can't pray all night, then I will wake through the night and talk with You, my Lord.
Week # 3 THOUGHT4TODAY:
For us the salve, the ointment that soothes the irritations of life, is Jesus Christ, the Great Physician. And we have instant communication with Him through times of prayerful solitude. (By Franklin Graham)
Week # 3 Reading Assignments………………..Book of Genesis Chapters 11-15