STUDY TEXT: Matthew 6:6, 7:24; mark 6:45, 46; Luke 5:15, 16, 6:12, 13, 7:24; John 5:24
MEMORY VERSE: 2 Peter 3:18 “Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
CENTRAL TRUTH: Personal devotions strengthen our relationship with Christ.
- Follow Jesus’ Example ( “Set Apart Time” and “Pray Before Decisions”)
- Obey Jesus Words (“Wise Obedience”)
OBJECTIVE: To realize that a devotional life is essential for Christian living and engage in personal devotions.
FOLLOW JESUS’ EXAMPLE
Set Apart Time: Mark 6:45; Luke 5:15-16 “Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. 16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
Jesus provides the perfect example of a balanced life. From His birth, He combined the mental, physical, and social with the spiritual. He developed the skills of a carpenter, studied scripture, debated in the synagogues, and took part in the festivities of weddings. He prayed publicly, but He also prayed alone.
In Mark 6, Jesus took His disciples to a desert place for rest following a time of intense ministry and after hearing of John the Baptist’s death, Luke 9:1-9. But the people would not leave them alone. A large crowd followed them. After several hours of teaching them, Jesus miraculously fed them, Mark 6:30-44. In response to this miracle, the multitude intended to take Him by force and make Him King, John 6:14, 15. quickly avoided such political activity.
First, He sent His disciples away by boat. He probably did not want them to be influenced by the crowd. He then dismissed the people. Afterward, Jesus “departed into a mountain to pray,” Mark 6:46. Rest and spiritual renewal prioritized His evening schedule.
QUESTION: Why was it important for Jesus to get alone for prayer?
No one knows what Jesus prayed about, but some of His prayer undoubtedly was to give thanks to the Father for the miracle of that day. Jesus may have asked for personal renewal and a strengthened commitment to the Father’s plan, which included the Cross. After all, the admiration of adoring crowds might bring temptation even to Jesus. Satan might use this admiration to try to get Jesus to avoid the Cross. Getting alone with God not only renewed Him spiritually, but being in God’s presence kept His focus on God’s will.
After Jesus healed a leper, a great multitude came to Him again to be healed, Luke 5:15, 16. And again, Jesus senses His need to be alone with God and withdrew to the wilderness to pray, verse 16.
It was Jesus’ habit to leave the crowded city to find a private place of prayer. Verse 16 may indicate that he had left even before everyone in the thronging
crowd had been healed. Jesus had developed a personal need for communion with God.
It is important to note, though, that Jesus did not substitute spiritual activity for prayer. Even as great as His miracles were, He still needed to regularly commune with His Father.
QUESTION: Why is it important that we spend time alone with God?
In His teachings, Jesus implied that the secret to real victory is secured in private devotions. On days packed with ministry, Jesus still took time to go to a remote place to rest and pray.
Many times we allow the pressures of the day or the demands of others to keep us from spending time in the Word and in communion with God. But just as Jesus kept His spiritual priorities in order, so must we. We must not allow the urgent to interfere with the important.
Pray Before Decisions – Luke 6:12-13 “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13 When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles“
Major decisions in life require us to pray for God’s will. Jesus was no exception. In Luke 6:12, 13, Luke recorded that Jesus went up on a mountain and spent the night in prayer. The next day, He chose the 12 men who would be with Him for the next 3 years.
QUESTION: Why would Jesus need to pray before making the choice of His disciples?
Scripture indicates that Jesus knew who was going to betray Him. He might have been tempted, then, to not choose Judas as one of the Twelve. But in prayer, He would have been strengthened to do God’s will for His life including choosing the one who would later betray Him. Many times we would like to make decisions on our own human understanding or according to our own desires. Yet it is important for us to seek God’s will in the decisions of life. As we do, our hearts and minds can become attuned to God’s. then He can direct our paths, Proverbs 3:5, 6.
OBEY JESUS WORDS
Wise Obedience: Matthew 6:6 says “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” And also Matthew 7:24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”
In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus indicated the importance of spending time in prayer. But we must have the proper attitude when we pray. Instead of praying in public where we can be seen by men and receive their praise, Jesus told His followers to pray in the closet, Matthew 6:6.
The closet was an isolated, interior room, often used as a storeroom. Families would store their most valuable possessions in this inner room. This illustrates how we are to shut ourselves away from distractions for a time of intercession and prayer. In this private place, we can be alone with God.
QUESTION: Why is it important to get alone in prayer?
When we are alone with God, we can pour our hearts out to Him. We can tell Him all of our burdens. There we can intercede in the Holy Spirit. Without worry of interruption, we can be led by the Spirit to pray according to His will. While we may not pray in a literal closet, the important thing is getting alone God.
Jesus said that those who pray to be seen by men have their reward — the honour of others. But those who pray in secret, the Father rewards openly. In privacy, the Father listens and answers our prayers. In addition, the rewards of the secret life of prayer will be manifest to all who know us.
In Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, He also taught concerning various aspects of the Christian life. At the end of His discourse, He gave an illustration concerning the importance of obeying His teachings, Matthew 7:24-27. Jesus referred to the one who responds to His words as ‘wise.’ Many times we hear teaching concerning the need for devotions, and yet do not respond. Jesus knew the importance of time with God. The truly wise believer will set aside time to spend in the presence of the Lord.
If we take time for daily devotions, strengthening our spiritual life, we will be like the wise man. When the storms of life surround us, we will stand firm upon the Solid Rock. But if we do not daily strengthen ourselves spiritually, the storms of life will take their toll.