Monday, 16 November 2015

Daily Reading: Luke 6v12-19 'The way to guarantee guilt'

"12 In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: 14 Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
17 And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, 18 who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19 And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all."

There is one word that when we hear it endures guilt in the vast majority of those who follow Jesus.  'Prayer'.  Why does it make us feel guilty?  Because we know it's a privilege, we know it is something we should not just do but enjoy, yet for many of us it remains hard, under utilised and viewed slightly reticently.  So in verse 12 we read "he went out on the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God."  and instantly we feel guilty, we think about how little we pray in contrast.  Often I thin our problem is that we get hung up on the how rather than the who.  We focus on methods or systems of prayer rather than focusing on God.  Interesting here Luke tells us Jesus continued in prayer all night to God, it is prayer focused on God.  It is Jesus enjoying his relationship with his Father.  Maybe prayer would just be easier all round if we began by focusing on God rather than worrying so much about the mechanics of prayer.

It's interesting that this prayer happens here.  Jesus has just been in quite an intense conflict with the religious leaders which has provoked a furious reaction which eventually will lead to his death.  It is in these days that Jesus withdraws to pray. It is also in the midst of v17-19 a hectically busy period of ministry in which people seem to want healing more than preaching.  And it is also as he is about to appoint the Apostles.  In these days Jesus withdraws to pray.

There is something helpful about seeing prayer set in the midst of the busyness of Jesus ministry life, amidst the pressures and strains.  Prayer is like an oasis for Jesus, it is both a resting point and a reset point.  Pressure and busyness aren't wrong but there are times Jesus needs to withdraw.  Is it too simplistic to say there is a helpful lesson for us to learn.  Don't let busyness, conflict and pressure drive you away from prayer because that is when you most need to get away and pray.

I write this having just spent the last month finding prayer hard, it  has been the longest period of time which I have felt like that in a long time.  I don't write this as a prayer warrior, but as a child who wants to speak to his Father but has found I have lost the ease with which I have been able to do so in the past.  Here's what I've found helpful this past week or so as I've begun to climb out of the rut.  Withdrawing - getting way from the noise and distractions - turning off the phone, rejigging my day so I am praying when there aren't 4 boys in the house.  Using the Prayer Book, not the new one or the older one but the oldest one, the Psalms.  Stopping and thinking about the Psalm and it's teaching, it's call, and how I pray it because as I do I find I focus on the who I am praying to rather than the how of praying to Him.

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