Withdrawing to Pray

Luke 5:12-16
12 While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy. And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” 13 And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him. 14 And he charged him to tell no one, but “go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” 15 But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. 16 But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.
            Jesus wasn’t interested in becoming famous. Even though He was a public figure and He spoke to large crowds, Jesus did not want to receive the credit of His ministry. Jesus would perform miracles, like the healing of a leper, and tell the person “to tell no one.” He wanted the credit of His ministry to go to God the Father.
            The importance of withdrawing to pray is interconnected with the development of humility. Withdrawing to a “desolate” place is a way in which we can be reminded that the work of God being done through our lives has nothing to do with our work or our doing. This retreat to a place free of distraction and compliments allows for a reconnection with God to remind us that His strength and grace are the only things that sustain and allow us to do His will. These places are locations where the focus is not on what we have accomplished, but a place to focus on what God has done and our need for Him. A developed prayer life is not focused about the self, but is focused on the Lord.
            Jesus withdrew to these places regularly in His ministry not to become humbler (as He was and is perfectly humble), but He retreated to maintain a humble stance. True humility is not withdrawing from our earthly responsibilities, but true humility is learning to rest and retreat from times of success. To stay healthy spiritually, the example that is given to us by Christ is to find places where we are alone to pray and connect with the Lord, and perhaps it is not possible to be healthy spiritually without a humble prayer life.
            These times of withdrawing to pray are easy to skip. When things are going well in life we can so easily get lost in the distraction of life. Things seem to get increasingly busy and hectic, and we can easily say that the busyness is not hindering our spiritual growth. But the hectic life that we seemingly enjoy is not what we should worship. We must maintain our humility by taking times away from our busy schedule to withdraw and pray.

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