The Life of Christ - The Needed Sanctuary of Private, Personal Prayer - Monday, January 22nd

The Life of Christ - The Needed Sanctuary of Private, Personal Prayer - Monday, January 22nd

In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. Simon and his companions searched for Him; they found Him, and said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.” He said to them, “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.” And He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out the demons. Mark 1:35-39

Today's thoughts from today's verses:

We are in the third week of our Series from the gospel of Mark on “The Life of Christ“ and will be looking at Mark 1:35 – 2:22 throughout the week. From today’s passage we are going to consider the implications for us of Christ’s reliance on regular communion with his Heavenly Father in private, personal prayer. The following excerpt from the writings of W. Philip Keller will help us do this:

God calls us to be still before Him. In this quiet expectancy, with humility of spirit and honesty of soul, we will discover He is very near to us. In order for us to truly seek out silence (stillness) we have to first discover a bit of insufficiency. As long as I am strong/busy/able/in control, I don't really need stillness....so God often brings me to insufficiency to get me to stillness where he can speak to me. Far better to build a daily habit of stillness that grows out of the conviction that I need to be alone with God so He can speak to me. You will be surprised. It is in this sense of serene stillness of his profound presence that we sense our souls become serene. There we find rest, repose, and re-creation. 

Only in intimate and first-hand interaction with His Spirit am I remade in his likeness. Christ’s own superb character impacts mine. I become like the one whom I spend special time—daily. Most of us are so preoccupied pouring out our own petitions we will not pause to listen to what He tells us. Be still. Be calm. Be receptive. Wait confidently for Him to instruct and guide in the way He wishes you to live. This is the way to pray. Christ, just as with His own disciples in His earthly days, calls us to come to the awareness we need to be still. We need to get alone with Him. We need to sense the still, refreshing dews of His presence, His peace, His power to restore our souls and spirits. Give Him time to do this! 

It is essential for us to understand clearly that our Father is not only delighted to have us draw near to him in quiet communion, but He in turn loves to draw near to us. He loves to make Himself known in reality to His child. He revels in the company of the one who is humble in heart (will, soul) and contrite in spirit. Entering into the inner attitude of utter stillness has been discovered by the truly great and noble saints of God, all through the ages and to them it became a source of spiritual strength and inspiration as they communed quietly with the living God. Such interaction with God is not a form of subtle “mysticism,” “pietism,” or even “quietism.” Neither is it spurious or sentimental self-delusion or self –hypnosis or a sinister sort of transcendental meditation. Let it be said without apology or embarrassment: “To know Christ as my closest friend, to know God as my caring Father, to know His gracious Spirit as my constant Counselor, is to know eternal life!” (John 17:3) 

Turn your weary footsteps toward our Loving Savior who waits for you to come to Him. He longs for you simply to settle down quietly in His presence and be still before Him. Find your rest, your renewal, your refreshment in His company. Let the still dews of His own Spirit settle down softly upon your soul. Oh, the wonder of just coming to Christ in open, honest, and deep longing to be refreshed with His life! He invites us to come day after day to drink and drink of Him. There is no other way to pray and to ask to be filled and filled and filled, again and again and again.

We really can experience this kind of praying. It is the kind of praying Jesus needed, took time for, and modeled for us. The word "dine" in Revelation 3:20 conveys the picture of two people sitting face to face, just being with each other, and enjoying each other's company over a meal. This aspect of communing with God in prayer is one that must be cultivated and has much to do with being "still" in God's presence. We don't always have to be learning something, be convicted of something, be guided in something. Let's learn to relax with the Lord and enjoy each other. God delights to be God to us. We must let Him, by truly partaking of Him, being filled by Him, being replenished and refreshed by him as we learn to be still before Him and let Him care for our deepest needs. The imagery of “drinking” in John 7:37-38 and Jeremiah 2:13 conveys the idea of spiritually partaking of living water from the fountain of living waters and forsaking all substitutes. 

As we learn to be "still" before the Lord we will find it necessary for us first to forget about ourselves and our needs, to be empty, to be totally focused on Him. We worship Him, exalt Him, praise Him, delight in Him. Our being in God's presence in this way is what it means to “minister to the Lord” as seen in Acts 13:2. He longs for us to worship Him in Spirit and in truth. When we bow before Him in emptiness with our central desire to be before Him for whatever He desires, the Lord is ministered to by us. We, His creatures before our Creator, existing for His pleasure - that's what it takes. Now, empty of ourselves, God is able to minister to us by filling us up with Himself. He can't fill that which is filled with something else. It is an exciting thing to get to know God in this way. He longs for you simply to settle down quietly in His presence and be still before Him. Find your rest, your renewal, your refreshment in His company. Let the still dews of His own Spirit settle down softly upon your soul.

Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

Lord, I come to you the fountain of living waters. I seek to be empty of me and forgetful of self so I can truly drink deeply of you. I worship you, exalt you, praise you, delight in you. I settle down quietly in your presence and I am still be for you. I minister to you, Lord and I know you are ministering to me by filling me, replenishing me, renewing me, strengthening me, and refreshing me. I love you, enjoy you, and rest in you. Amen!

Be sure to check out the special posts from this past Saturday and Sunday.

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