But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray. (Luke 5:16 NASB)
This verse is so important to Christian living that it demands a second look. A "mini-vacation" is nice, but a simple change in routine is not what Jesus was doing. When the world pressed in and threatened to overwhelm Him, when He was facing a difficult challenge, before the toughest choice of His life (save mankind on the cross or not), He went to a quiet place alone and did the only thing that would help. He prayed.
This was not a memorized, "Now I lay me down to sleep" prayer, nor one from a prayer book, although both kinds of prayer have their place. This was a heartfelt conversation with the Most High God, who also just happened to be His Daddy. We don't know exactly what happened, but we know something of how Jesus prayed. He spoke words of praise and honor to His Father, much as we would greet someone with words like "I'm so glad to see you", or "Thanks for taking time with me today". He also spoke of His needs, including His need for wisdom and direction, as well as His need for protection and His desire to stay the course without error.
(You may think I'm making this up, but I'm not. We can know the way Jesus spoke with His Father by looking at the model prayer He gave us in Matthew 6.)
Jesus's words were an important part of His prayer time, but if that was all there was, He would still have the same questions He had before He started praying. Conversations require two-way communication, and that's the essence of prayer. Jesus needed the quiet and the solitude to hear that still small voice clearly and to get the direction He needed. He also needed time so that He could stay in place until the conversation was completed.
When you pray, is it like a conversation between a much-loved child and an adoring Father or just a laundry list of needs and wants? There is a place for expressing desires, but if the list is all that happens, it's not really a conversation with God, is it? As we approach the New Year, let's commit to spending quality time in conversation with the Lover of Our Soul.
Today, pray for daily quiet, alone time with our Lord and a commitment to use that time wisely. Pray that we and our loved ones will be quiet and still until we hear that Still Small Voice and willing to obey the direction He gives.