Jesus’ healing miracles speak to us of His power to heal. They also speak of His power to save. When we read about Jesus, the Healer, we learn also about Jesus, the Saviour. Here, we read about a leper being healed by Jesus. Leprosy is a horrible disease. It ruins the lives of those who suffer from it. There is, however, another disease which affects every one of us. Sin is a horrible disease. There is only one cure from this deadly disease – Jesus, our Saviour. Jesus’ healing miracles point us to another healing, which every one of us needs. It is the healing of His salvation. Jesus heals broken hearts. Jesus puts broken lives back together again.
There is a spiritual sickness which comes into our lives when we refuse to pay attention to what God is saying to us concerning the way He wants us to live. When we have turned our backs on God, He does not abandon us. He continues to call upon us. He calls us to turn around, to turn back to Him. Turning back to the Lord will involve listening attentively to what He says to us in His Word. It will involve taking time to pray to the Lord. This turning to the Lord will involve both public worship and private prayer.
In Luke 5:16, we see the importance of private prayer in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ – “He withdrew to the desert and prayed” (RSV), “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (NIV). “Often” – Over and over again, Jesus spent time, praying to God. this was not an occasional thing in Jesus’ life. This was the regular pattern of His life. As we see Jesus praying, we are challenged to make prayer a central feature of our own lives: “Awake, my soul, and with the sun, thy daily stage of duty run. Shake off dull sloth, and joyful rise, to pay thy morning sacrifice.” Jesus lived a busy life yet He still found time to pray. This is a challenge to us. Are we too busy to pray? If we are too busy to pray, then we are too busy. If Jesus needed to pray, how much more do we need to pray! Jesus prayed, and the power of God flowed through Him. May God help us to make prayer thr great priority of our lives. May God help us to be the kind of praying people through whom God can work in mighty power as He brings the healing power of His salvation into our congregation and community.
Here, we see Jesus engaging in private prayer. On other occasions, we see Jesus gathering with other worshippers in the synagogue. Jesus knew that, in promising to bless the gathering together of His praying people, God had placed special emphasis on “the prayers offered in this place” (2 Chronicles 7:14-16). We also see Jesus gathering His disciples around Him. They receive instruction from Him. He teaches them to pray. When we Jesus in the synagogue and Jesus with His disciples, we understand that His withdrawal to lonely places was very different from the loneliness of those who keep themselves to themselves, refusing to commit themselves to worshipping and praying with others. That kind of loneliness is very different from His “being alone with God” we see here in Jesus. there is nothing spiritual about the attitude which says, “I don’t need other people.” There is a great deal of pride in those who refuse to give themselves to one another within the fellowship of God’s people, gathered together tfor worship and prayer. As well as learning about the need for regulat private prayer, we also learn, from Jesus, about the importance of worshipping and praying with God’s people.
For Jesus, being alone with God was a vital part of His life. It is to be a vital part of our life. We must find time for being alone with God. Jesus had a busy public ministry. He needed to take time to receive strength from His Heavenly Father. We need the strength which comes from being alone with God. Jesus said, “Come apart and rest awhile.” We might add the comment, “If you don’t rest awhile, you’ll come apart.” We can learn a great deal about prayer as we follow Jesus, learning from Him in the school of prayer. We learn from the times that Jesus prayed. we learn from the way in which Jesus prayed.
(1) Praying to God the Father
Jesus didn’t pray to a faraway God, a God who didn’t care. Jesus prayed to His loving, Heavenly Father. When Jesus prayed, He was speaking to the God of perfect love. This is the God to whom we pray, the God who loves us. He is our Father, the Father who loves us with the greatest love of all. When we come into God’s presence, we must remember this – He is our loving Father.
(2) Praying at all times
Many people only pray when they’re in trouble. Jesus was not like this. He prayed in the hard times. He prayed in the good times. He prayed at all times. Let’s follow Jesus, remembering to give thanks for God’s goodness when things are going well as well as asking for His help when things are not going so well. If we are to learn to follow Jesus, we must learn to be thankful (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18). Let’s pray at all times with joyful thanksgiving. In our prayer, let there be thinking and thanking. Think about what God has done for you and thank Him for it. Let this be our “everyday” prayer.
(3) Worshipping the Lord in our prayers
Some people think of prayer in terms of asking for things. They bring a “shopping list” with them – This is what I want. For Jesus, prayer was much more than that. He worshipped God – “Hallowed be Thy Name.” He entered into God’s presence, enjoying fellowship with God. He was more aware of God, learning what God wanted – “Thy will be done” – rather than being preoccupied with Himself – “This is what I want.” How can we learn to worship God in our prayers? How can we bring our lives into line with His will? We must learn to spend time listening to God as well as speaking to Him. He speaks to us through His Word. We speak to Him in prayer.