So completely does our Lord Jesus take the place of the dependent servant of God on earth that He begins His public ministry with prayer. How fitting and how becoming this is!
“But so much the more went there a fame abroad of Him … And He withdrew Himself into the wilderness and prayed” (Luke 5:15-16). Most saints pray in a crisis, but the perfectly dependent One also prayed in prosperity. Instead of yielding to the applause of the multitude, He went aside to pray. Although He was truly God, He was also truly man, practicing dependence on God.
When things are going well there is the temptation, at least unconsciously, to think that we can get along without God. But here Christ prayed in prosperity. Prayer in the presence of God will preserve us from pride and there is power as a result of prayer. The very next verse (v17) tells us, “The power of the Lord was present to heal them.” It is especially important for every saint used of God in a special way to get into God’s presence and give Him all the glory due to Him. Someone has said that, “the first 100 times public speaking are the hardest.” I got 90 of my first 100 times in the open air. On a bulletin board there were posted about 10 helps to the open-air preacher. Two bits of advice have stuck with me. “Don’t be too elated when it seems to be easy to preach and there is a good listenership.” To balance that advice, “Don’t be too discouraged when it does not seem to be so easy and there isn’t a good listenership.”
He healed a man with a withered hand in the synagogue on the Sabbath day. “And they were filled with madness and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus … And … He went out into a mountain to pray and continued all night in prayer to God” (6:11-12). In 5:15 He had the fame of men and here He has the rage of men. This is the only recorded instance in the New Testament of all-night prayer to God. It was because there was the rise of opposition, and also because He was about to choose the 12 disciples
The public work of the Lord Jesus had reached a critical point. During the hours of night Christ spread out all the opposition to His God and Father. We should follow His example. When we have opposition, we should spread it out before the Lord.
In Acts 4 the climax of the saints’ prayer about the opposition is, “And now Lord behold their threatening and grant unto Thy servants that with boldness they may speak Thy Word” (v29). We read in verse 31, “And when they had prayed the place was shaken where they were assembled together and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and they spake the Word of God with boldness.” That was what they had prayed for! If anyone (including a brother) is against us, it will help us to pray individually for that person.
During the hours of the night our Lord Jesus submitted Himself to the guidance of His Father. Every one of the 12 choices He made the next day was in perfect harmony with the will of His Father. We all have choices to make. How good it is for each one of us to submit all our choices to the will of our Heavenly Father. The more saints there are who spend at least a half hour in prayer most every day, the better off the work of the Lord and the assemblies of His people are.
Just Before Peter’s Confession
This was just before our Lord’s first revelation of the cross to His disciples. The words of the verse may seem to contradict each other but they show the accuracy of Scripture. Here we see Christ with His disciples; He is praying alone, not with them. Though He sometimes prayed in the presence of His disciples, He never used the plural in prayer, meaning Himself and His disciples. This shows that there is an infinite gap between the sinlessly perfect Son of God and the holiest disciple.
When He asked them, “Whom say the people that I am?” they told Him and then He asked them (Luke 9:20), “But whom say ye that I am?” Then Peter made his wonderful confession. Thou art “The Christ of God.” We should notice especially what Matthew records. “Blessed art thou Simon Barjona for flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto thee but My Father which is in heaven” (Matt 16:17). Our Lord Jesus saw an answer to His prayer in Peter’s confession. Prayer is vital to evangelization.
During the first series that I had with Albert Hull, he told me how he got saved. His sister Evelyn had been praying for Albert to be saved. One Lord’s Day evening at 7:50 pm she was confident that God had saved her brother Albert, even though he had not been in a gospel meeting for about two-and-a-half years. She told another sister. This sister thought, if Albert is really saved there will be news from home on Monday or Tuesday, but no news came. Evelyn had Wednesday afternoon off and Albert was there when Evelyn got home but he had not told any of his family yet. Albert was going to tell her when he brought her to the train or bus station to return to the hospital; but he didn’t. On Friday while eating lunch with his mother he asked, “Mother, have you seen any change in your son Albert this week?” She replied, “Yes Albert, I have.” Then he told her, “I got saved Sunday night.” She threw her arms around him and said, “Thank God, the prodigal has come home.” Then she said, “You have to telephone Evelyn.” Albert said to Evelyn, “Evelyn, I have good news for you.” And the first thing Evelyn said was, “Yes, Albert, and you have had this good news since last Sunday.” Albert could hardly believe it! He asked. “Who told you?” God had told her. Albert did not get saved until two or three hours after God told Evelyn. What happened at that time? God had been dealing with him all afternoon. At that hour he was walking by a portable gospel hall while they were singing,
Sinners Jesus will receive;
Sound this word of grace to all
Who the heavenly pathway leave,
All who linger, all who fall.
Sing it o’er and o’er again;
Christ receiveth sinful men.
Those words gave Albert hope; “There is hope for a sinner like me.” Since there were no unsaved present in that portable hall, the preachers said, “Let’s open the windows and sing, it may help someone going by.” It truly helped Albert!