And He Prayed
Following Christ's Example
By Shae Hamrick
Sirens whizzed past my car as an ambulance wove through the traffic to some unknown destination. "Lord. Bless them and those whom they are going to treat," I prayed silently and then glanced back to check on the kids. My teenage daughter and one of her girl friends were going skating. "And bless my daughter and her friends. Keep them from temptations. Protect them and watch over them. All according to Your will."
As my daughter and son grow, I find new reasons and new people for whom to pray. In doing so, I have noticed passages from God's word I had missed previously regarding Christ's praying. Several passages struck me as fascinating. One reads "... so He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed." (Luke 5:16) Another states that He took the disciples aside (from the crowds) to the deserted places in the city. He was often sought after by the disciples when He had gone off to the mountain to pray. And of course we have the transfiguration on the mountain top as well as His stepping away to pray at the garden (which, Judas was well aware of His habit of doing).
Imagine being surrounded day and night by people wanting your attention. Imagine the press of the crowds, the heat, the sweat, and the smells. Imagine having every sick or dying person from all corners of the known world searching you out every moment of every day. We have to deal with all kinds of people and all kinds of situations in our normal days that make us feel pressed and stressed sometimes to our limit, and none of these people are particularly looking for us. Imagine being Christ or one of his disciples for just one day. No wonder He found ways to withdraw Himself to pray to His Father.
Unlike the religious teachers of the day, Christ was different in other ways in his prayer life as well. He didn't make large public prayers for all to hear. He made simple blessings in public such as blessing the food before feeding the crowd or blessing the children. Yet when He chose to speak at length with God, when things were at their toughest for Him, when He needed to talk about heavenly matters, He withdrew and spoke in private with God.
In teaching us to pray, Christ instructed us to speak to God as Father, to pray with a purpose and not with vain, empty repetition, and to do so in private rather than for the world to hear and think well of us. He taught us to pray our praises, our needs, our forgiveness, and our protection. And most of all that God's will be done and not our own.
All of these things Christ displayed in his prayer life. Even to the end. His last prayer was for forgiveness as He hung, dying, on the cross. God's forgiveness.
In today's busy life, I find it hard sometimes to even remember to pray. I often wonder how Christ managed. The answer, at least in part, might come from the one phrase "He Himself often ... prayed." Praying was a frequent part of Christ's life and He developed a habit of taking things to God in prayer, a habit I would do well to adopt. May God help me to make it not only a habit, but also an ongoing conversation with Him. Amen.