I’m stuck at home recovering from the effects of the Covid Virus. According to the CDC guidelines I’m out of quarantine and no longer contagious, but the pneumonia that came with the virus has left me with some difficulties breathing. Our deacon body has been generous and given me several weeks to recover my energy before preaching again. On the one hand I am very grateful for their care for me and desire that I have freedom to recover. On the other hand, I’ve felt so useless over the last few weeks that I’m eager, maybe too eager, to jump back into every aspect of ministry. Indeed, there are more hurting now than ever due to the virus and losing loved ones. My plate feels fuller than it has ever been in some sense, but I’m being cautioned to take things slow for the sake of my health. I’m a big believer in accountability and I am grateful to submit myself to these Godly men and their wisdom.
Perhaps that’s why it all jumped back out at me again as I saw Jesus so busy with ministry in these chapters. I can imagine the fire that was burning to go and preach repentance! He was a man on a mission! Everything He did had consequence! How could he possibly slow down to go find a desolate place and pray? He had too much to do!
But that’s when it caught me this morning. Precisely BECAUSE he had so much to do, he had to go and find a desolate place (twice in today’s reading). He went to pray. When the demands of ministry were heaviest on his shoulders, Jesus made it a priority to pray!
As I read along this morning I couldn’t help but draw the conclusion that the power of Jesus’ public ministry was tied to his private prayer life. Jesus modeled something here. The bigger the demands of ministry, the more important the prayer closet becomes. As I focus on resting from the pulpit for a few weeks, I’ll be gladly shifting a lot more of my attention to prayer. It’d be foolish to imagine that any of us could do ministry without fully depending on the Lord anyway.
Father, thank you for the model of prayer found in today’s passage. I am grateful that in His humanity Jesus demonstrated what it looks like to live with a full ministry calendar that included time to get away and pray. Forgive me for the times I have tried to take ministry in my own hands, strength and power. There is no way to really do what you have called us to without constantly, consciously checking in with you through prayer. I ask that you guide me in a productive prayer closet this week. In Jesus’ Name.