Personal prayer as a spiritual formation

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One of the greatest mysteries in the gospels is the mystery of having to prepare before doing ministry. It is said that Jesus (The Son of God, the Word of God, Visible image of the invisible God) Spent numerous hours in Prayer with his Father before going out to heal and to minister to others. In my goals of spiritual formation this Year, I plan to intensify my prayer life with the Father. Throughout the gospels, it is written 15 times that Jesus prayed. In these times, He prayed in the early morning hours in various places of solitude, such as on the mountains or in the wilderness prior to doing ministry. It is the opinion of this writer that it is of extreme importance, that the servant of the lord resembles the life of Christ if they want to be successful in the ministry of leading others. If Jesus Christ practiced the spiritual discipline of prayer in solitude, to be prepared for the work of leadership in the ministry, then surely I need to double the time that he had, if I am to be successful in my efforts. If Jesus labored in this world to gain victory over spiritual battles, I too must use prayer to form and to shape my life to do the Fathers will. I believe that there are many dynamics to leadership and many tools that are needed to serve others well. However, there is none more important than the dynamic of spiritual formation. In order to be a good leader, I have to first be taught and led. It is in the closet of prayer and preparation that I know I can get my heart in line before I get my script in line. In Marks gospel, I see what prayer and preparation did for Jesus before ministering to others who were in need. There are six observations I have discovered in this text.

  1. Jesus before doing any ministry desired communion with his Father.
  2. Jesus delighted himself in maintaining conversation with His Father who had all power of heaven and earth in his hands.
  3. Jesus did nothing before consulting with His father prior to ministry responsibilities.
  4. HE sought out fellowship with the triune council of Heaven.
  5. Jesus through prayer would trust in the Spirit of God to illuminate His way while serving on earth.
  6. Jesus dove into the great depths of prayer as a model of spiritual living that we might have an example to follow.

In the early chapters of Marks gospel, it is recorded that Jesus got up early to pray. This gives us the ability to see a picture of the Father in Heaven waking the Son to spend time with Him. It is a consistent picture of the fellowship Jesus has always’ had with his father throughout eternity.God in this passage is looking for the opportunity to meet with Jesus so he can give him instruction concerning the cases he will have for the day. The Father wants to use Jesus in the earthly realm just as He wants to use me. I cannot help but notice that there is something very precious about an early morning meeting with the Father.It is the observation of this writer that prayer in a solitary place is sweeter than a hurried encounter surrounded in noise. In the solitary place, my devotion is sacred and intentional. I have discovered that praying while in solitude will enhance my thought processes. Praying while in solitude will reveal greater depths of intimacy with God. When my mind, body, and soul are not in competition with anyone or anything else, praying in solitude changes me, before it changes anything else.

As I close this post, I thank God today for giving me a model of prayer and spiritual formation, in the life of Jesus. It is in this model that I see the importance being alone with God. Every good student of the gospels takes serious the life of Christ, as he is the model minister of the new covenant. In Jesus is the example of a leader. He took care of his own soul before attending to others. I have learned that praying while in solitude exposes my real motives, and secret desires. When I pray in solitude it brings me bare before the throne, and makes me rely upon the work of the Holy Spirit to get my prayers right. Having the right place of solitude, makes the prayer experience sweet and refreshing. As I grow as a student in the ministry of leadership, I am convicted that I must have a consistent place of solicitude, if I am to draw near unto God. It is there that I can fully devote myself to the Masters voice and wait patiently for him to speak. As a form of my spiritual formation, I want to practice this discipline with diligence. I believe that Jesus knew the importance of prayer and wanted to give His undivided attention to the Father. Jesus knew that interrupted prayer, was not true devotion to God. He knew that prayer that was not in solitude could never be as rich of an encounter as that which was done in total seclusion. This type of spiritual formation and relationship is what I desire for the New Year in my leadership walk. As the triune God kept intimate fellowship with one another, so I desire the same thing as I journey on earth.

For further reading check out the following resources.

[1] Edward P. Wimberly, Pastoral care in the black church (Abington Nashville: Partheon Press, 1975), Pg 35-39.

[2] Henry and Richard Blackaby, Hearing God’s Voice (Nashville TN: Broadman & Holman, 2002), Pg 112-115.

[3] Richard Foster & Bryan Smith, Devotional Classics (New York: Harper Collins, 1993), 203-242.

[4] Angulus D. Wilson, Preaching and Prayer (Birmingham Al: Beeson Divinity School, Pastors Conference, 2007), pg3-8, Samford University Beeson Divinity School, Lecture 2007.

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