"After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone." Matthew 14:23 (NLT)
It was a drama-packed day. Jesus' cousin, John the Baptist, was dead because a drunken king chopped off his head. Jesus tried to get away to deal with the news, but crowds of people called his name.
Heal me! Feed me!
He healed the sick. He fed over 5,000 people with a few fish and loaves of bread. These miracles caused the crowd to press in closer, to shout louder and to demand more from Him. It also caused conflict.
He's our new king!
No; he's dangerous; kill him!
Sometimes life gets complex. Many times we just keep on going even though we are pulled between the demands of the people we love - Feed me! Love me! - with those feelings festering just under the surface.
But what happens when you arrive at ground zero emotionally because of loss or pain or fatigue?
What did Jesus do? When His day was finally done, Jesus hiked into the mountains to pray. He needed strength. He needed guidance. He needed to be refreshed spiritually and physically. Jesus settled in to talk to His father.
I'll be honest. When I'm at that place, the temptation is to wrap up in my favorite blanket, turn on a mindless TV show, and veg.
But what waits for me in that alone place with God?
He knows us better than anyone else. He's willing to carry our burdens, soothe our hearts, and that prayer time becomes a shelter, an oasis where we are revived. At that point it's not about the time we spend, or even the words that we say, but what we discover when we settle in.
Prayer becomes our heavenly GPS system.
An earthly GPS system contains atomic clocks that are accurate to a billionth of a second! No matter where you are, it can find your location and give you direction.
Think about this: The God of the Universe is greater than any earthly GPS. God knows where you are, where you are headed emotionally, and how to recalculate so that you can find your way back to sanity, peace, and even to joy.
Dear Jesus, You know what it is to be emotionally and physically spent. You know what it is to hurt, to grieve, to long for quiet and peace and healing. Thank You that You understand how I feel, and that You carry my burden when it's too big for me to carry alone. I adore You. In Your Name, Amen.
Many of you, like me, probably talk to God throughout the day. But is there a sacred place set aside for you and God?
Don't set a time limit, or make it a duty.
Settle in with Him. Close the door.
Talk to Him about your day. Praise Him for His great love.
Breathe in the presence of the Holy Spirit. Don't rush it.
Let God do His work inside of You.
Prayer is a spot where we go just as surely as a church sanctuary is a place. When we pray, we are going into a place built from words. Or at least it's a place where words are the parameters, the walls into which we enter.
Psalm 19:7, "The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple." (NLT)
Psalm 91:1-2, "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, 'My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom trust.'" (ESV)