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    Put Prayer First

    If we want to be disciples, we must learn to sit at the feet of Jesus. March 27, 2018 by Aaron White
    Filed Under:
    Opinion & Critical Thought
    Photo: © Jonah Cowie/iStock.com

    Study Passages: Mark 6:45-46; Luke 10:38-42

    Frequently in the Gospels, Jesus is shown retreating to a quiet place and spending time in prayer. This is a wondrous thing. One scholar describes this as humans being allowed to listen in on the conversation at the heart of creation. Jesus takes time to meet and speak with his Father even when he is in the middle of significant moments of ministry.

    Questions

    • What was the busiest time of your life?
    • Do you consider yourself to be a busy or active person?
    • Do you perhaps take pride in being a little too busy and active; in accomplishing a lot during the day; in being known as someone who is always involved and engaged and who is usually asked to do things?


    Jesus prioritized prayer, and taught his disciples to do the same. This can be seen in his instructions to them on prayer, but also in his desire for them to spend time listening to and learning from him.

    Recite the Lord’s Prayer and then be still and silent for the next few minutes. Try to be still on the outside and the inside, not letting your mind wander to all the things you are meant to be doing tomorrow. Instead, listen!

    Begin by listening to all the sounds that you normally don’t hear because you are too distracted. Then listen to your slower, deeper breathing and to your beating heart. Then listen to hear if God might be saying something to you. Then say the Lord’s Prayer again.

    Questions

    • How did that feel—was it easy or difficult?
    • Why might this kind of practice be important?
    • Are stillness and silence a regular part of worship in your corps? Why or why not?


    Prayer is not asking God to bless what you are planning to do anyway, nor convincing God of the things you think he should do. Prayer is not getting wishes from a genie, nor is it summed up by the “thoughts and prayers” we tend to send over social media whenever there is a crisis in the world.

    When Jesus prayed, he affirmed his union with the Father, declared his faithful commitment to the Father’s mission in the world, and received strength to fulfil that purpose. He did not even act out of his own initiative, but committed himself to doing whatever he saw his Father doing.

    We cannot simply imitate a lot of what Jesus did, because Jesus was the incarnate Son of God and his ministry was unique. Yet, in prayer and through time spent with God’s Word, we can be brought into the relationship that Jesus shared with his Father and with the Spirit. We can participate in the love that exists within the Trinity. This is only possible because Jesus took on human nature and gifted us with the Holy Spirit following his death and Resurrection, thus opening the way for us to be united with the Father.

    Read Luke 10:38-42. Time spent sitting at the feet of Jesus in prayer, worship and studying Scripture is time spent being united with God in Christ. The result of this is not magically answered prayers, but spiritually transformed people. When people are conformed into the image of Jesus Christ, they are empowered to participate in the ministry Jesus is still working in the world. Without this union with Christ, this prioritizing of the relationship with Christ, we are not empowered to participate in what God is doing.

    Read Mark 6:45-46. After satisfying the needs of the crowds, Jesus goes away to pray. He is next spotted much later by terrified disciples who are in a boat on the lake struggling against the elements.

    Questions

    • Why does Mark interrupt the flow of this narrative to mention that Jesus went up a mountain to pray and spend time alone with God?
    • Why do you think Jesus stops to pray at this moment?
    • What is the connection in Jesus’ life between prayer and action, and what can we learn from this?


    We cannot do the things Jesus tells the church to do—heal the sick, cast out demons, preach the gospel—without the presence and power of God in us. Yet we often neglect prayer, personally and corporately. And then we wonder why the problems of the world, and the problems of our own hearts, continually overwhelm us. Prayer sometimes appears to the world—and to us—to be a waste of time, a “soft option” when there is so much work to be done. Yet Jesus stopped to pray, and told his followers to spend time sitting at his feet. If we want to be disciples, we must first learn to sit at the feet of Christ.

    Questions

    • Are we meant to imitate Jesus in all the things he does?
    • How might prayer empower us to participate in the ministry of Jesus?
    • Do we prioritize prayer, individually and corporately?
    • How can we begin to make prayer a priority, personally and within our corps?


    Be very intentional this week about prioritizing prayer. Pray when you wake up and before going on any kind of social media. Pray before you send any email. Pray before, during and after any interaction. Pray before starting tasks, pause in the middle to pray and pray at the end as well. Pray as you walk down the street. Pray before and after you eat. Pray before you go to bed. Arrange times to pray with friends.

    Ask God during these prayer times for opportunities and empowerment to participate in his ministry; ask to be made more and more into the likeness of Jesus; ask that all your thoughts, words and actions would glorify the name of God and encourage his children; and thank God in all things.

    Aaron White is the ministry director of 614 at Anchor of Hope Corps in Vancouver.

    Reprinted from Salvationist UK.

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