The importance of prayer cannot be over-emphasized. Throughout the Bible we are encouraged to pray according to the will of God (e.g. James 4:2, 1 John 5:14, 14, 1 Thessalonians 5:17). In this article, I will briefly focus on a specific aspect of prayer – praying alone. Jesus often prayed in solitude. While on earth, He was extremely busy – preaching, teaching and healing. However He often retreated to be by Himself and pray to the Father. Let’s look at some scriptures to gain valuable insight.
Matthew 4:1-11 (See also Luke 4:1-13) – The Temptation of Jesus by Satan
Matthew 4 is the first mention of Jesus spending time alone in prayer. He went into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. He spent 4o days and nights in prayer and fasting. Jesus knew He had to be prepared to face the great tempter. He was victorious because He prayed. Jesus’ time in the wilderness serves as an example to us. He took time out to prayer in order to overcome temptation. What about us? We must do the same. This passage shows us how vital it is to spend time alone with God.
Matthew 14:13 – After receiving the news of John the Baptist’s death
After John the Baptist was beheaded, Jesus was informed. The Bible states in Matthew 14:13 that “When Jesus heard of it, He withdrew from there privately in a boat to a solitary place…” John the Baptist was the forerunner of Jesus, of whom it is written:
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord; Make straight in the desert, A highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted.And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough places smooth; The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken” (Isaiah 40:3-5)
The death of John signaled to Jesus that His own death was near. Jesus would soon be standing before King Herod, the same man who had John beheaded. We can only guess exactly what Jesus was thinking or praying about as He withdrew in the boat. However we know that it was linked to the news He had received. What about us? How do we deal with “big” news or bad news when it comes? Do we panic or get stressed out about it? Let’s draw strength from what Jesus did here. He withdrew from the crowd, the hustle and bustle around Him. He prayed alone.
Mark 1:35 – Jesus prayed early in the morning
In this verse we see that “… in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed” Here we see that Jesus got up very early in the morning to pray. Early morning is a great time for prayer. It is a time that is generally very quiet, when nearly every one else is sleeping. Jesus knew that He could commune with His Father without distraction and noise around. Jesus was very busy. He needed the time of solitary prayer in order to be refreshed from the day past, and to be prepared for the day ahead.
From my own experience, getting up before daylight to pray is a sacrifice. It is not easy, but it is very much possible. If done regularly, it becomes easier. I have had the experience of often waking up at 3-4 am and have the Lord prompt me to get out of bed and pray. I have found that later that same day, there was some temptation or trial to face. God knew that the time spent in prayer in those early morning hours was to prepare me for the rest of the day.
Luke 5:16 – Jesus prayed alone often
“So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed”. The preceding verse says “However, the report went around concerning Him all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities.” Notice that Jesus often prayed after prolonged periods of ministry i.e. healing, casting out demons. He often had to retreat and pray. It was during these times that He spent precious time with His Father. This enabled Him to carry on His work from day to day. The same applies to us today. To be successful in whatever God has us to do, or in any area of of out lives, we too must as often as we can pay alone – as Jesus did.
Luke 6:12-15 – Jesus prayed alone before choosing His disciples
This passage of scripture says
“Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles: Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot; 16 Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor”
After Jesus prayed all night, He chose His twelve disciples. These were the men who Jesus was going to train and mentor over the next three years. They would go on to take His gospel to the world and be the first leaders of His Church. There is no doubt that Jesus gained wisdom and instruction from the Father during those hours of prayer. The decisions He made as a result would affect the world forever. We learn from this how important prayer is. Before we make any major decisions, let us go to God in prayer. This is how we will have the confidence to make the right choices in our lives, choices in line with God’s plan for us.