“For the effect of prayer is union with God, and, if someone is with God, he is separated from the enemy.” Gregory of Nyssa
Jesus was tempted for forty days in the desert and I’m certain that prayer played an important role during that time of temptation. As Jesus continued on in his ministry, daily prayer and time alone with God was necessary for Jesus to recharge himself and to determine God’s will. “At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place” (Luke 4:42). Why did Jesus seek out a solitary place? To pray – and to spend valuable time alone with God. If Jesus gave prayer this high of a priority, how much more do we need this daily time alone with God as well? Jesus desired this prayer time alone with God in order to draw strength for the mission that awaited him, and so should we.
When we spend time in prayer with God, we separate ourselves from the enemy and his many evil schemes and desires. We also begin to learn more about God’s plan for our lives as we draw near to God in prayer. Prayer serves to protect us from the devil’s intention of interrupting or destroying our union with God. As I sat down today to read my Bible and pray, the evil one tried every way possible to disrupt my time alone with God. I began to think about some challenges that are ahead of me and my mind began to wander in many different directions. The evil one knows that when we spend time in prayer with God, we draw closer to God and further away from the enemy’s influence. Satan will go to any lengths to keep us from this union with God through prayer. He will do anything to lessen our effectiveness as followers of Christ.
“Through prayer we guard our chastity, control our temper and rid ourselves of vanity. It makes us forget injuries, overcomes envy, defeats injustice and makes amends for sin. Through prayer we obtain physical well-being, a happy home, and a strong, well-ordered society.” Gregory of Nyssa
As Jesus was carrying out his earthly ministry, crowds of people followed him to hear him teach and to be healed. “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. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:15-16). It’s apparent that Jesus needed this prayer time alone with God to recharge and ready himself for the next day of ministry – and so do we! As you face the many trials, challenges and temptations that life sends your way, you also need this daily quiet time of prayer with your heavenly Father. Through prayer, God can heal our very souls and minds so that we can become more attuned to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
“Prayer is intimacy with God and contemplation of the invisible. Prayer is the enjoyment of things present and the substance of the things to come.” Gregory of Nyssa
“One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles” (Luke 6:12-13). Jesus prayed to God when important decisions needed to be made and in this instance he spent the entire night praying! How often do you take to God your most important decisions and ask for His guidance? And how often do you follow that guidance?
The reason that the Gospels give us a glimpse into the prayer life of Jesus is:
1) To help us understand that prayer is something to be taken seriously. It is a “union with God” where we are “separated from the enemy.” As Christians, we need this many times throughout our day. Prayer “will refresh you when you are weary and comfort you when you are sorrowful.”
2) To teach us to pray often. Prayer is to be practiced daily, multiple times a day, and even throughout the night, if necessary. Prayer helps us to develop a more trusting relationship with God and to seek His will. It also “makes us forget injuries, overcomes envy, defeats injustice and makes amends for sin.”
3) To help us determine God’s will in our daily lives. Jesus spent the entire night praying to God before selecting his twelve disciples. As we draw near to God through prayer we learn to become more aware of how God and his Holy Spirit are moving in our lives. We learn to become more obedient to God and to trust him fully. “Prayer is intimacy with God and contemplation of the invisible.”
The Apostle Paul reminds us to “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).