- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 4, 2007

The following are excerpts from a recent sermon from Don Davidson at First Baptist Church of Alexandria.

One of the things that we first notice about Jesus when we read the Gospels is how very balanced His life was. No one has ever had a bigger responsibility — He was the Savior of the world — or more people clamoring for His attention. Yet, He never appeared hurried. Jesus had discovered the proper rhythm of work, rest and prayer, and it served Him well during His brief but highly effective ministry on earth. And prayer was perhaps the most important component.

Devout Muslims pray five times a day, and the Jews of Jesus’ day prayed three. Christians have no mandated schedule, and for that reason we sometimes let it go altogether. We’re too busy and with too little time. We are the poorer for that neglect, too, and our lives become stressed and fretful. In this new year, 2007, we should commit ourselves more intentionally to daily communion with God.

Jesus prayed, and that’s really quite amazing when you stop to think about it. And it is reason enough for you and for me to do so.

Prayer is “keeping company with God” and is the point where you meet with Him.

Our professed belief in God is merely academic until we actually begin talking with Him.

Jesus prayed at key moments of crisis and decision. Only a few of His prayers are recorded in the New Testament, but we know that He must have prayed regularly and powerfully because His disciples took special note of it. Of all the things they could have asked Jesus to teach them — preaching, miracle working, personal charisma — they asked only to be taught how to pray. The result was the Lord’s Prayer, or “Model Prayer” of Luke 11.

In that particular prayer, He taught us to approach God as Father, a revolutionary concept in the world of religion. We can talk to Him as one who loves us completely and who promises to provide everything we need.

Prayer was obviously a priority for Jesus. It was at the top of His “to do” list each day. He had a regular appointment with the Father “very early in the morning, while it was still dark” (Mark 1:35). He no doubt learned to do that from the Psalms. “In the morning you hear my voice, O Lord; in the morning I lay my request before you and wait in anticipation” (Psalm 5:3).

Jesus apparently had a regular place for prayer, too. He left the house, got away from all its distractions and went to a “wilderness place.” Each of His recorded prayer times in Mark’s Gospel was in just such a spot. And that’s not merely a geographical reference. In the Bible, the wilderness was a place of spiritual wrestling, conflict and soul-searching. Your wilderness location is where the mask comes off and you are most you.

Prayer helped Jesus to stay focused on His purpose, His agenda — and so it will for us.

Even His closest disciples did not understand the importance of a daily quiet time in Jesus’ life. Simon Peter came looking for Him. Perturbed and even angry, he asked Jesus what He was doing out there all by Himself when people wanted to see Him.

It is an interesting question. Which is more important: time with people or time with God? Actions that make the world a better place, or muttering words under your breath and quiet meditation? We are just as conflicted about that today.

Unbelievers think of prayer as a waste of time — mere soliloquies that do little but calm the nerves of the person praying. Jesus, however, drew great strength from these moments with God. He was able to do His mission faithfully because of time spent with the Father. He found just the right balance.

When you do not know who you are, others will try to tell you. They have a mold into which they would like to squeeze you. And if you do not have an agenda for your time, they will supply you one of those, too — one that clearly resembles their own.

It was through prayer that Jesus stayed connected to His purpose of preaching (Mark 1:38) the good news of the kingdom. Should He ever forget it, or feel stressed about all the other worthy things people wanted Him to do, those precious moments with God brought Him back.

Karl Barth said: “To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.” The disorder and chaos of my life, too. In prayer I discover God again — and see more clearly the person He means for me to be. Nothing I’ll do today is more consequential than that.

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