I am taking a break from the verse for the day to think about today, Good Friday. We are in the week that is the centerpiece of the Christian faith. We hopefully live every day with an awareness of what Jesus has done for us and live in light of that, but this weekend is a special time to reflect.
Take time this weekend to read from the Gospel accounts (in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) to remember what Jesus did not just for the whole world, but for you.
One thing I was thinking about the last day or two is the value of having a place to pray. We see throughout Jesus’ earthly ministry that he made it a priority to go away to a quiet place to pray.
Mark 1:35, “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.”
In Matthew 26:36-46, Mark 14:32-42, and Luke 22:39-46 (parallel passages), after they have celebrated Passover and the Lord’s Supper, we read that Jesus came to a place called Gethsemane and told his disciples to stay in one place while he went over to pray. Jesus fell on his face and prayed about the things that were about to take place, his betrayal and crucifixion. Three times Jesus returned to his disciples to find them sleeping.
Jesus tells them, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41).
They have arrived at the most significant time in human history, and they slept, unaware yet fully of what was to happen.
I wonder if Peter had taken time to watch and pray if he would have later denied Jesus. Certainly Peter’s flesh was earnest and desirous of defending and acknowledging Jesus (Matt. 26:31-35), yet even after having been told by Jesus that he would deny Him, and saying he wouldn’t, Peter went on to deny Jesus three times (Matt. 26:69-75).
Watch and pray that you might not enter into temptation. That’s a good reason to pray.
We see Jesus’ life of prayer as an example – rising early, going to a quiet place, praying. If the Son of God needed to pray, don’t we? He faced temptation (Matt. 4), and he could have stepped away from the mission he was here to do. But He prayed, He did His Father’s will, He sacrificed so that you and I could be saved.
Can we likewise pray, do our Father’s will, and live our lives for Him?
I encourage you to find a place to pray. Of course, the Bible tells us to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17), being prayerful and alert at all times (Eph. 6:18), but we also need focused time to pull away and pray. The best time often seems to be the morning, before the day begins, but it can be any time. In Matt. 6:6, Jesus tells us, “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
So we go to a quiet and private place, we spend time in prayer, and the Father rewards us! That’s another good reason to pray – for the reward! Maybe that sounds self-serving, but it’s just taking God at His word. He says He will reward us. That reward could be peace; it could be having our hearts and will aligned with God’s; it could be seeing God work in powerful ways as He answers those prayers in supernatural ways, oftentimes ways we wouldn’t have expected, but better than our ways. While I don’t know what the specific reward is, there is a reward.
I want that reward; don’t you? I want freedom from temptation, don’t you? I want my weak flesh to be made strong by the Spirit of God; don’t you?
As always when I finish these posts, it feels incomplete. I know there is much more that could be said, much more in God’s Word about prayer, many more reasons to pray (it gives peace, shows our dependence and confidence in God, etc.). There is much, much more that could be said about Good Friday that we will hear tonight at church when we go to worship. God Word is rich and full and always supplies us with more than we could ever take in. These are just little nuggets of truth, but let’s study and know God’s Word, let’s believe it, let’s follow Jesus and live it, and yes, let’s pray.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, we praise you for the gift of prayer, for access to the throne of grace through Christ. We thank you for this Good Friday, this day in which Jesus carried our sin in his body on the cross and took our punishment, paid our price, so that we can know You, Lord, so that we can be free from sin and death and live abundantly now and eternally with You. May we take advantage of this privilege you give us to pray and be people of prayer. I pray now as you taught your disciples to pray, “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us as debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” (Matt. 6:9-13)