Summary: This is the 5th in a series of 8 sermons on discipleship. This one focuses on the importance of prayer in the disciple’s life.
Last week we continued our study on discipleship by looking at the importance of bible study in our lives. We talked about different ways in which we can get to know our bibles better through hearing the word taught, personal study, scripture memorization, and meditating upon the word of God. We also looked at the benefits to bible study in our walks as disciples. Tonight’s message kind of goes hand and hand with last week’s message. Studying your bible requires discipline and time and tonight’s principle of prayer is no different. A disciple should have a daily quiet time and should be developing in his prayer life.
Now quiet time can mean a lot of things, such as studying your bible, but for tonight I want to focus on quiet time as a chance to communicate with God. Most people would tell you that in any kind of relationship, communication is the most important step to having a healthy and open relationship. When you communicate with someone, you are not doing all the talking and likewise they shouldn’t be doing all the listening. Communication requires equal parts talking and listening. Prayer is no different. Prayer is our means of communication with our heavenly father. And just as communicating with your family, friends, or spouse is one of the most important aspects of that relationship, so it is in our relationship with God. And because it is so important, it is imperative that we do it on a regular basis, not just when we have spare time or when it’s convenient, but at all times. Our challenge as disciples tonight comes from Ephesians 6:18, “Pray in the spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” And also 1st Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.” As disciples we must pray on all occasions and we must do so without ceasing!
Jesus provides us with numerous examples of how important prayer and quiet time with God is. One great example of how important Jesus felt his time with God was is in the 1st chapter of Mark. Starting in verse 21, you see that Jesus is in Capernaum teaching in the synagogue. He also healed the demon possessed man in the synagogue. As soon as he was done there he went to the home of Simon and Andrew and while he was there he healed Simon’s mother-in-law from her illness. The word spread quickly about what he was doing that day and by that evening, most of the town had gathered at Simon and Andrew’s house with the sick and demon possessed and Jesus took the time to heal everyone. Jesus’ actions in verse 35 reveal to us how much importance we should put on prayer. Mark 1:35, “Very early the next morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”
As far as we can tell from the text in Mark, Jesus had a very busy day the day before, teaching, healing, and visiting with others. Most of us after a day like that would want to stay in bed and sleep in the next morning. But instead, Jesus did something that most of us have probably never done, he got up while it was still dark. And what did he do? He went to a solitary place and prayed. Jesus had been busy well after sunset the night before and he still took the time to get up before sunrise so he could have his quiet time alone with God. How many of you show the same dedication to God in your quiet times?
It is through prayer and your quiet times with God that you will be spiritually nourished and replenished. God will bless you with the tools you need to serve him and give you the energy and strength to follow him and do his will. As disciples for Christ we are called to minister to those around us and lead non-believers into a relationship with Jesus. If we have neglected our own spiritual nourishment by failing to pray, how can we expect to minister to others?
We must pray so that we are able to minister to others, but we should pray because we are in a fierce and constant battle. We are going to be constantly opposed by Satan and the sin that this earthly world has to offer us. Ephesians 6:12 tells us that “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” We are in a battle and we need the help of God. The enemy is ready to defeat us so we cannot neglect prayer and go into battle unarmed.