If you’re a sports fan you have probably seen situations where the best player on the team you root for falls flat in the post season. You might even remark, in disgust, that the player in question believed his own press clippings. It doesn’t always happen that way, but you know the scenario: someone is so popular that people think they can do anything and then they fall flat. It’s a disappointment. They get a reputation for “choking” in the clutch situations. They think they are so good that they lose their “grounding” and get away from the basics that put them in that exalted position.
It’s easy to believe the words of the crowd when they’re supporting you. It’s easy to get so caught up in the adulation that you lose the focus you need to keep doing what you’ve been doing. As Jesus went throughout the countryside proclaiming the Kingdom of God and healing those with various ailments, the crowds flocked to Him. Perhaps there were rumbles among the crowd that Jesus could just march in and overthrow the Romans. Perhaps Jesus was worried about getting sidetracked from His ultimate mission: His death on the cross. Whatever the reason, Jesus found a way to stay on track. “Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:15-16)
It is a mark of the humanity of Jesus that He had to pray. Why did Jesus, God the Son, need to pray? That’s a great question. I wish I had an answer. But Jesus, Son of Man, Son of Mary, needed to get off by Himself to pray and seek guidance. I think part of it was to deal with the exhaustion of always being around people. Maybe His human nature was enjoying the adulation and He realized that He needed this time alone to re-focus and remember His ministry. Whatever the reason may have been, Jesus not only took this time to pray and recharge His batteries, He set an example for all of us. How often do we make prayer our “move of desperation?” The whole world is falling apart around us and we suddenly decide that it’s time to pray. Jesus made that time to pray not when things were going wrong, but when it seemed like everything in the world was going right. Perhaps it’s in those times that everything seems to be smooth sailing that we fail to keep our connections with God the most. In that situation, Jesus went off by Himself to pray.
How are things going for you? Whatever the answer to that question may be, the proper response in any situation is to pray. When things are going great and you have the world by the tail, spend lots of time talking with God to make sure that you keep your focus on Him. Don’t believe the crowds; don’t believe that all this is happening because of how wonderful you are. Take the time to keep your focus with God. If things are going terrible you may be more likely to remember to pray. Keep praying. When God turns things around and things get better, keep praying. We cannot do the work God has called us to without His strength and guidance. The key to getting that is to pray. Think about it: if you can do the work without needing God’s guidance, it probably isn’t God’s work. Stay focused on the work of God by staying in prayer.
Lord, how often do I pray after I’ve done things my own way and things haven’t worked out. Remind me to keep focused on the work that You have for me. Remind me to keep talking to You in the good times as well as in the bad.