He Went Up . . . To Pray
January 29, 2021
And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there (Matthew 14:23).
This is a common activity of Jesus in the Gospels. We often find Him alone in prayer. There was a reason for this. Jesus’ focus in life was to do the will of the Father in heaven. (John 4:34) Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. (John 5:30) I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me. (John 6:38) For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
Prayer was an important part of Jesus’ life. He prayed regularly. (Luke 5:16) So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed. Since Jesus found it necessary to speak with the Father frequently, how much more is it for us to do so? He faced persecution, trials, heartache, and physical suffering. Without continual access to the throne of God, He would surely have found those events unbearable. We face the same things in life that Jesus faced, so it is imperative for us to continually come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
Note the emphasis of Matthew in this verse: He went up on the mountain by Himself . . . He was alone there. He chose this place for prayer where He could be alone, have his thoughts free, and as man, pour out His soul to His Father. If ever He needed the Father’s sympathy, it was now. The crowd was wild with enthusiasm and the disciples completely misunderstood Him. Only the Father alone could offer Him help now.
In view of the temptation when fame, fortune, prestige, and praise were offered, and almost forced upon Him, Jesus retreated for private prayer. This is an example for all of us who are tempted with things beyond the will of God for us. Nothing is better to keep our mind humble and surrendered to God than to seek some lonely place where we can shut out the world with all its accolades and applause and recognize our heavenly Father before whom all things shrink to nothing - to seek Him and ask Him to keep us from spiritual failure. (Matthew 6:6) But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
“Sweet hour of prayer! Sweet hour of prayer! Your wings shall my petition bear to You whose truth and faithfulness engage the waiting soul to bless. And since You bid me seek Your face, believe Your Word and trust Your grace, I’ll cast on You my every care, and wait for you, sweet hour of prayer! This is my prayer, Lord Jesus, to Your honor and glory, Amen.”