Charles Stanley - The Prayer Life of Jesus
Where is prayer in your life? Is it first place, second place, someplace, or no place? So, we ask the question, what place did it have in Jesus's life? That ought to say something to us about where it ought to be in our life. And oftentimes people will say, well, I pray once in a while, that means they don't pray hardly at all. Or they may say, I pray when I get in trouble, I pray when I'm having a hard time, and most people pray when there's a need or a want. Not simply because they love God, not simply because they enjoy being in His presence. Not simply because they love to love Him and adore Him with words of prayer. What about the prayer life of Jesus? Where did prayer fit in His life?
Well, here's where it fit, and that is prayer was number one with Jesus. It was where He began His day. And if you turn, for example, to Mark, and just look at a couple of verses here. Look if you will in Mark, the first chapter, and we find out quickly where prayer had its place in Jesus's life. It says, "In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, 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 the purpose for which I came.'" Now, one of the things that's so evident about Jesus, you think about His prayer life, He got up early. He began His prayer early in the morning getting ready.
So, let me ask you this. How many of you are naturally, this is private to you, how many of you start your day early in the morning and the first thing you do is pray in the morning? In fact, maybe some of you do. I certainly hope so. I got in a habit of that because when I was growing up, I delivered newspapers and so I started early in the morning about five-thirty or thereabouts. Nobody on the street but me and sometimes I was a little bit scared, to tell you the truth. And so, I started praying very early. Well, it was a good habit for me because I prayed all those years delivering newspapers. And in the afternoons, of course, I watched the traffic because I had to go in and out across a very, very busy street. But it taught me a great lesson, and that is you start the day with the Father before you do anything else. And the truth is none of us can give an acceptable excuse for starting it any other way. You sleep all night; even if you had to get up early in the morning or maybe you didn't sleep very good but starting the day with the Lord. That's what Jesus did. Because He got up early in the morning, left the house and went to a solitary place to talk to the Father.
Now, when I think about Jesus and what He had to do. And what every day for Him called for, how did He get up early each morning and begin the day? How He did it in the determination on His part, He knew that in order for Him to accomplish what He had to accomplish that day, He had to start early. So, I would simply ask you the question, Is your relationship to God, is it important enough that you put that first in your life each day? You say, Well, I have a big family. Well, You could have a small family or big family. Watch this. It isn't how big your family, it isn't how convenient it is, the issue is what's the most important thing in your life? If your relationship to Jesus is the most important thing in your life, you're going to start with Him. You're going to be willing to allow the Lord Jesus Christ to speak to early in the morning, getting the day started off right.
And I wonder how many times you have been driving down the expressway or maybe you're on your job or something and nothing's going right. You stop to think, You know what, I didn't even pray this morning before I left the house. In Atlanta, it's dangerous not to pray before you leave your house, if you're going to get on the expressway. Put it that-a-way. And so, Jesus made it His priority, now think about this. He was the Son of God. But He knew that for Him to accomplish what the Father wanted Him to accomplish, He had to start the day with the Father. And I believe therein is the key to our accomplishing anything or much in life that's really worthwhile that has lasting value, that we start off with the Lord Jesus Christ; surrendering our life to Him for the day; asking for direction; making us sensitive and making us sensitive to people around us, whatever the situation may be, that's the way He began the day. Early in the morning He got up. But it's interesting in Matthew fourteen twenty-three it says, He went away to a secluded place.
Now, this is very important. That is when Jesus began early praying, He went somewhere He wouldn't be disturbed. So, let me ask you this. If you start your day off with the Lord, is there a place at your house you won't be disturbed? Probably most people would have some place. Why did He not want to be disturbed? Because He was asking for the Father's direction. He knew every day for Him counted. Somebody says, Well, I don't have a place in my house. There must be some place in your house. Somes-body says, Well, I have a closet but it's full of clothes. Move them aside. In other words, here's the important thing. There's something about a place. And I've always had a place, and it hasn't been away from everybody. There was a place over in my living room over in the corner; and my study over in this corner.
But I had a mat that I lay on and talked to the Lord. And here's what I discovered. After a season of time, a very short period of time, I didn't have to get ready. Because the only thing I did in that place was to talk to the Lord. And so, everybody can have a place somewhere. Because if that's all you do there, there's something about getting there, getting down on your knees or your face, whichever you choose and here's what happens. After a while, your mind, your spirit, and your body adjusts quickly. This is where the only thing you do is you talk to God. Everybody needs a place they can talk to the Father. There's something about a place where you and God, what happens is it becomes a holy place. And you may just have to have a mat or something. That's and I remember when I got married we just had one small bedroom and a bath and a living room and a little small kitchen; so, the only place I had to pray was over in the corner of the living room. But I could tell you some things that God spoke to my heart over by myself in the living room on my mat.
I remember one night I was praying and asking the Lord to give me direction in my life. And I remember the Lord saying to me crystal clear, Whatever you accomplish in life, you let, and I was in seminary, first year, so I was in my early twenties. Whatever you accomplish in life, you'll have to accomplish on your knees. You can't depend upon your abilities, your talents, your skill, anything. The only thing you can depend upon is prayer on your knees. I've never forgotten it. I couldn't possibly forget it. I couldn't ever take any credit for anything God's done. There's something about your place, God will speak to you and give you direction and encouragement for your life. Then I can think about many times I've knelt on that same old mat. And that mat happened to be an afghan that my mother had crocheted, I guess that's what you call it, crocheted, for me and that's what I always prayed on and I still have it.
There's something about a place that you and the Father can talk about the most intimate things in your life. Where you'll find out that He gave you direction. And the wonderful thing about having a place is this. You'll remember things that God says to you there that if you just prayed any old place, more than likely you'd forget it. But there's something about you and the Father and your place. It's a private place. It's a holy place. It's a place where you get direction and guidance and encouragement and assurance. And where you get conviction. And where you have to weep sometime. And where you have to cry out to God and confess sin. But it's your place where you and God only meet together. It's your place, just you and Jesus meet there. But you look at His life. He began early. He went to a secluded place and I say oftentimes on His knees.
Now, the Scripture says that He fell down to the ground. I don't know whether Jesus prayed on His knees like you and I would or not. He probably did. That would be more likely than just stretching out on the ground somewhere. But somebody says, Well, I don't have to get on my knees. No, you don't have to. But just think about this. Who are you talking to? You're talking to Holy God. You're going to stand up face to face and talk to Him? You can. But in the privacy of your home or wherever you are, kneeling before Him if at all possible. Sometimes people can't kneel. I understand that. But there's something about bowing in the presence of Almighty God that says something about our spirit, about our attitude. And here's the Son of God and what does He do? He falls to the ground or He kneels before the Father. And in Gethsemane, He fell to the ground, began to pray. Well, the Bible doesn't say He knelt or stretched out, but more than likely He knelt before the Father.
There's something about that. There's something about kneeling in the presence of Almighty God, talking to Him about your life and about your day and about the things that concern you. If you want to accomplish the most in life, you start it with Him. And you start it with Him by yourself. You say, Well, I pray with my husband or my wife or my children or my parents. There's something about just you and God. Because the truth is you can't pray about everything in front of somebody else. We all have those things in life that we have to deal with, that we have, we need privacy. And certainly, Jesus did that. And so, ask yourself the question, How much time do you spend with Him in a given day? And Jesus didn't go out healing and preaching and then decide He was going to pray. But that's the way He began His day. What did He pray? One of the things He prayed was to know the Father's will. Listen, He says, Not that I will, but what You will. That's what Jesus prayed.
So, ask yourself the question, When you pray, let's just take it for granted for a few moments that you pray every morning. What do You pray? Do you begin your prayer with a list of things that you're concerned about? Or do you stop to think about, God, I want Your will to be done today. Watch this. There's something about your own personal private prayer life that you surrender yourself every morning to the Lord. Lord, not my will but Your will be done. There's something about laying everything bare before Him, all alone, just you and the Lord. God does something in your heart. I'll tell you what He does. He's growing you up. He's growing you spiritually. Something's happening in your heart.
You say, Well, I don't feel anything. That's not the issue. The issue is you have said to Him, I acknowledge You as my Heavenly Father. Before I begin this day with anybody else, I'm beginning it with You. I know I need You for this day. I need correction. I need help. I need support. I have needs this day and I want You and I, Lord, to talk about this. Lord Jesus, here I am this morning. And Lord here I am again this morning, talking about what I talked to You about yesterday morning. And Lord, I'm just as concerned today as I was yesterday. And God, I didn't have any answers. In other words, when you have a private prayer life, You can tell Him you're disappointed He didn't answer your prayer, if you want to. Or you can thank Him for what He's done.
Here's what I want you to realize. There's something about you and the Lord Jesus by yourself. There's nothing in the world to match that, nothing. Nothing so powerful as that. Because remember who you're talking to. You're talking to the sovereign God of the universe, who has all power; can do anything that needs to be done in your life. And think about this. You can't ask Him anything that He doesn't have the power to do. And all of us have brought things to Him in our prayer life we thought, God, I'm desperate, Lord. I desperately need Your help. God, You just got to come through with me, Lord, about this. He doesn't get upset. He's always available and always ready and always capable of dealing with anything you and I bring to Him. Then the Scripture says that He spent the whole night in prayer to the Father. I don't want you to raise your hand naturally, but have you ever spent all night in prayer to God? Probably 99.9% of the people have not. Because somebody would say, Well, I can't think up that much to say.
That's not what motivated Him. What motivated Jesus to pray all night? What motivated Him to pray different things? For example, when He was praying for His disciples and asking the Father to show Him who they were. And they were starting the ministry together. And so, think about it. Here's the Son of God, He prayed all night, because of His relationship to the Father. Think about how absolutely awesome that relationship was. No sin. Perfect relationship. Perfect intimacy with one another. And when you and I kneel before Him and ask for direction for our life; bring before Him the things that concern us. Lord, what is Your will? What would You have me to do? Now, watch this. You and I have some promises in the Word of God. Ask and what? It shall be given you. Seek and what? Knock and it shall be opened to you. He promises to answer our prayer. He doesn't promise to give us everything we ask for, but He, watch this, He promises to be there. And He promises to listen. And He promises to answer our prayer according to what He knows is best for us. He knows all of our needs. He's ready to help us in every single situation in life.
We don't have to plead with Him to listen to us. We don't have to plead with Him to answer our prayer. He's ready and willing to help us in every circumstance. Then He prayed in that seventeenth chapter of John that the Father would protect His followers. And every parent should be praying for God to protect their children. That's exactly what He was doing. Who do you pray for? Is there anybody in your life that's valuable enough that you pray for them every day? Do you know what their needs are? Why would you be concerned about praying for them every day? We live in a world that is dangerous, wicked, vile, sinful, hostile, you name it. We all need each other's prayers. And we certainly need to pray for our children. And we need to pray for our parents. Everywhere you turn, there is evil; Jesus prayed for His disciples and He prayed that God would protect them. He said, "Keep them from the evil one".
All of us, if we pray very much, you'll wrestle with the devil because here's what he'll do. He'll do his best to divide your mind while you're praying. He'll get you thinking about something else. Haven't you been praying at some point in your life; next thing you know you're thinking about something had nothing to do with what you started with. Because Satan will disrupt your praying. He's our enemy. He doesn't want us spending time in the most valuable place, doing the most valuable thing we could possibly do. And so, Jesus had to deal with him. Then of course, the Bible says He agonized in prayer. That is, when He and the Father were talking about the crucifixion, He was in agony. Somebody says, Well, what does agonize mean? Here's what it means. It means the trouble is so troubling and the burden is so heavy you think, God, I don't know what, how to handle this.
Now, Jesus didn't have to say, I don't know how to handle it. But sometimes we have to say that. God, You're going to have to help me. I don't know what to do at this point, but Lord, You promised to listen to me and You promised to answer my prayer, God. And you'll find yourself weeping, wondering what God's going to do. Does God always answer your prayer when you ask Him? Not always. Not just because you ask Him then. Watch this. Whatever we ask, He listens and He's going to answer it when He's ready, when He knows we're ready and the time is right for Him to be glorified and honored in answering that prayer. And if you've prayed very much, you're going to come to a place in your life in situations and circumstances that'll be agonizing. Things will happen that you have no control over. The only place you can go for help is to God.
I think about people when the wife or husband comes home in the afternoon; they have a little note, I'm leaving; this marriage is over. Or a son or daughter says I don't want to live at home any longer; or whatever it might be. All of us have heard bad news at some point in our life. All of us have heard bad news that we just felt, Lord, what do I do at this point? Maybe a sense of desperation. One thing about it, in your place to pray, wherever that is. It's like God's waiting for you. And then I think about this. The Scripture says that, "He went up into the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone". Somebody says, well, I usually pray with somebody. Listen to me carefully. You need to become such a friend to God, you don't need anybody to pray with you. Now, there's one, it's fine to have somebody to pray with you. And having a prayer partner's a wonderful thing. But you and God need to be such friends you don't need anybody. God will show you what to do.
You say, Well, I'm praying but I ask my friend. Well, we all have friends, but your Heavenly Father loves you enough and is so committed to you He says, Ask and it shall be given you; seek and you will find; knock and it'll be opened to you. This is the confidence that we have in Him; that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, we know that we have the petition we desired of Him. That's who He is. You know what He's waiting for? He's just waiting for us to give Him time; to listen to Him carefully and to do whatever He says do. Now, here's what'll happen. If you're praying to Him and God shows you what to do and you don't do it, I can tell you exactly what will happen. Next time you show up to pray in your place, Heavenly Father, I want to thank You. God's silent. He loves us too much to answer our petitions when we're living in disobedience to Him.
And oftentimes people say, Well, I prayed and I still have sin in my life but God seems to be blessing me. You know, it's not God blessing you. You're smart enough to manage things. For example, people will say, Well, I prayed about buying this house or buying this car and I asked the Lord about it and He didn't tell me not to do it. So, if He didn't tell me not to, I guess it's okay. No, it's not. God, more than likely, would tell you, This is what you should do. And God may tell you not to, but if He tries to point you to a better way or to a later time. Listen. This is why your place and you and God become such good friends there's no argument about it. In other words, He's going, listen. Watch this. God does not mumble. He makes it very clear what we're to do. Does He tell me the first time, or tell you the first time? Maybe not. Because watch this. Sometimes He has to get some stuff out of our life before we listen to Him.
So, we may have to pray and Lord, show me if there's anything that keeps me from getting the truth and; sometimes we have to have, be sifted a little bit before we'll listen. Then He will show us what to do. The most valuable place in your house is where you and the Lord meet. The most valuable time you spend or invest, and that's what it is; an investment of your time, is when you and the Father are together. You'll be amazed what He'll tell you. You'll be amazed at what He'll start doing in your life. And you'll be amazed how that place becomes the most valuable place in your home. Now, you may not listen to another sermon, but this very casual, friendly chat, it's what this is. If you'll take it to heart, God will do something awesome in your life. But you have to choose that you love God enough to give Him time. Amen?
Father, we thank You for loving us. Thank You for loving us enough to listen to us, and never say that You're in a hurry, always have time to listen. Thank You for being willing to intervene into our life at any moment, to help us, strengthen us, enable us to become the person You want us to be. I pray that You will not allow this message to be lost in traffic, in all the things that happen the rest of this day. We love You and we praise You, Lord, in Jesus's name, amen.