Luke 5:16 (ESV) – “But [Jesus] would withdraw to desolate places and pray.” By: Paul Ramsay, HCPN Finishing Resident
June 7, 2019
As our HCPN 50 Days of Prayer wind down and we prepare to transition from this unified prayer movement across the city back towards the prayer movements within our respective local churches, I am struck by something. I am struck by how often I find myself with my head down, working away at some task or initiative, frustrated with my lack of progress or exhausted due to the amount of exertion that is required, and realizing that it’s been hours or even days since I last prayed in earnest for God’s guidance and power.
If Jesus Christ himself would go Off into the woods,
Who am I to say, resigned, “I don’t think I could.”
Are the things that “I must do” More important than
Those which occupied my Lord— Yes, God, the great “I am”?
Some translations of Luke 5:16 insert the word “often” to describe Jesus’ retreats into the wilderness for prayer. As a church planter, a fellow “laborer in the harvest” (Matt. 9:38), I find myself both corrected and immensely thankful for this picture of Jesus. Jesus was the most purposeful human being who ever lived, with the most urgent task and the most burdensome call of any human being who ever lived. Because of this, he had the greatest excuse of anyone who ever lived to ‘get to work’ and pray later. But this is not what we see. His life was marked, in the midst of this active and powerful ministry, by regular, earnest, deep, intimate prayer. My mind goes to the old quote from Martin Luther: “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” Jesus retreated regularly to pray, that he might be filled and directed by his heavenly Father.
As we all turn from this unified season of prayer, let me share a brief word of encouragement: don’t stop praying! In fact, let us seek to follow Jesus’ example, turning up the volume of our prayer lives together, continuing to cry out with increasing fervor until we see revival in our city—and then keep on praying!
A man named Terry Teykl spent some time with me and a group of church planters a few months ago and he used a phrase that has stuck with me ever since: if we want God to move, then we’ve got to “pray the price.” You and I, brothers and sisters, dream of the kind of spiritual renewal and revival that only God can do. A movement of the gospel saturates our city, blanketing our neighborhoods with gospel presence—such that the gospel would be rendered non-ignorable even by the people who seem farthest from God—is impossible without a powerful move of God, and for that, we must pray the price, and keep praying until we see that for which we ask!
So the prayer I want to invite us to pray together today is simply this: let us pray that God would make the church in Houston a praying church. Let’s start with you and me together, today, and see what God might do!
Heavenly Father, we humble ourselves before you together as we come before you and plead on behalf of our city. We want nothing more and nothing less than what you want for Houston, and we ask that you guide the way as we seek to follow you, joining with you in what you are doing in our city. Please make us more into people who pray. (Please make me more into a person who prays!) Please ignite in our hearts the desire for intimate time with you and help us to seek out and structure our lives around time with you in prayer. And let our ministry efforts be fueled and informed by our prayers, rather than the other way around. We want you to get the glory in all things, and ask that you would bring your kingdom here to earth, even as it is in heaven, for the glory of your name! In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.