On Deliberate Prayer

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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. (Mark 1:35)
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I read the above verse yesterday, searching for what it said about prayer. In terms of proper prayer procedure, it doesn't say much. There is no mention of magical incantations, notes on specific posture, or even instructions on how to pray (should one start with praise? confession?).
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Rather the verse shares a simple observation: Jesus prayed deliberately.
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Over and over again the writers of the gospels note Jesus' habit of deliberate prayer: John 17 records Jesus' prayer for himself, his disciples, and all believers; Matthew 26:39-42 details Jesus' purposeful and agonizing plea to his father, that the "cup" of suffering would be taken from him--if it be in the Father's will; Mark 6:41 notes Jesus' prayer over the loaves and fishes. Indeed, Jesus clearly had a habit of deliberate prayer.
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In pondering this habit of Jesus', I was reminded anew of the absolute necessity of prayer. If the Savior of the world prayed purposefully, should I not also follow his example? I can do the two-second prayer quite well, the "O Father, grant me grace" right before a big test, or in the middle of a stressful conversation. It is in the faithful discipline of purposeful prayer that I lack.
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Indeed, prayer is exhausting; yet Jesus shows me that it's vitally important. Prayer takes time; yet Jesus made time for it. I cannot run from what the gospel so clearly reveals--I can only beg for the willingness to realign my life so that purposeful prayer exists in it. In doing so, I might have to give up something: studying, dreaming about warm days on the beach, enjoying the ability to "not think" while I walk. Yet, by praying, I am not only following the command of scripture to pray (see Ephesians 6:18a), but I am also patterning my life after Jesus.
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O God, grant me grace and strength to do just this, that I may glorify thy Most Holy Name. Amen.
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Comments

  1. Thank you for encouraging me with this post, it came just at a time of spiritual exhaustion. How desperately we need prayer!

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