Prayer, Endurance and Jesus

I was recently in Luke and realized something I’d never seen before.

 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13 When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: 14 Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, 15 Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

 17 He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coastal region around Tyre and Sidon, 18 who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by impure spirits were cured, 19 and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.

 

So he did not SLEEP the night before, then went down the mountain, chose his disciples and healed ALL those people!

 

Guess what he did next?

Napped?

Slept.

Withdrew?

 

nope.

 

Looking at his disciples, he said:

   “Blessed are you who are poor, 
   for yours is the kingdom of God. 
21 Blessed are you who hunger now, 
   for you will be satisfied. 
Blessed are you who weep now, 
   for you will laugh. 
22 Blessed are you when people hate you, 
   when they exclude you and insult you 
   and reject your name as evil, 
      because of the Son of Man.

 

I just can’t get over this. Jesus spent the entire night praying, then delivered the sermon on the mount!

 

Recently, I’ve been being sent places.  DC for days at a time, Rome, NH, then LA next week.  I love travel so it’s not a huge deal, but before we go to each place, there is often a time of preparation (aka desperate scrambling/working weekends).  So there is limited rest.  And yet, here’s what I am learning.

 

1.) God is able to give us the strength to endure it all—and not begrudgingly, or sick/tired the whole time, but thankfully and cheerfully.

2.) This is not about personality type or Myers Briggs.  Our whole team of introverts and extroverts had everything we needed for all of these trips and we have not been burned out yet. This isn’t “just how I am”, it’s available to us because it was available to Jesus.

3.) This is only possible because the same spirit that is in Jesus lives in us.  The exact same one.  Not a little piece of it, and not “in some different way”.  Jesus was a man who was filled with the Spirit of God.  Fully God and fully man, and he spoke to God through the Holy Spirit.  We get this too.

4.) We should still rest. God set up a Sabbath and we honor him by taking one day a week to rest.

5.) He will use that rest time to keep us going throughout the week. I’ve heard many stories of people who stayed up all night or all but two hours and God gave them energy every day to stay awake and function.  But we should only do this if we feel called to do it.

6.) Jesus was effective because he constantly withdrew to pray to God.  The more we spend time in his presence alone, the more we need to spend MORE time…it’s a little bit weird, but I guess it’s like a relationship with a friend or significant other. The more time you spend, the more you want to spend.

7.) Every time we go into His presence to tell Him what’s happening, ask Him for help, worship His name, confess our sins—it’s time well-spent.  We should rest because he commands us to, but we should not be overly worried or anxious about health or sleep.  The Lord will provide if he asks for your time.  Sometimes we do not see him work miracles like this because we’re taking care to never need His strength.

For a few years now, I’ve sort of tried to “understand the season I am in” and work hard, play hard during the day since “night is coming when no one can work”. (John 9:4).

When I am older, God may give me a family or more down time.  While I am young, it’s nice to be able to speak on behalf of the oppressed and run around knowing that it is not I but the Spirit in me who keeps me going when things go well.  When things go badly, my vision is clouded, I am cranky or exhausted, it’s not so much the spirit in me as the flesh in me.  Still working on that.

I regularly consider the woman in Proverbs 31. She gets us early and is always taking care of things for her family in a responsible way.  

Brother Yun taught me a lot about rest.  He is always in prayer throughout the day–always working but always praying.  He gets up at 5 daily —  and is no spring chicken.  When we are serving the Father, time alone with Him IS rest (that’s why Jesus could pray all night!).  When I miss morning times with Him, I start feeling terrible.  This post is meant more to encourage us to stretch ourselves and leave comfort zones, to enjoy Him and not worry about physical effects.  It’s not a defense of my personal sleep habits :).  Still, I am thankful for my parents who know me best and agree together with me that this crazy schedule, these unique opportunities to travel, speak and learn — are for a season, and that God Himself is faithful and will do it, if He is leading.  I do not have to take care of myself and he always provides energy or rest in the moment i need it most.

 

I just want to worship Him for that actually.  God, thank you that you are a good shepherd.  You are faithful and kind, and you provide for every need.  You command us to rest, and for that, we’re thankful.  Teach us to balance our days correctly between work, play, sleep, rest and time with you.  We have the sabbath once a week but days aren’t as simple.  You are a good God who created seasons!  We love seasons here in Boston.  Teach us to be content whatever the circumstances, whether well fed or hungry, in plenty or in need, in danger, in comfort…teach me to be content when too busy, and when “bored”.  I pray that we would resemble Jesus–led by the Spirit, and devoted to His mission with an undivided heart.

My heart is prone to wander, Lord.  In your great mercy, would you help me stay by you?  I am easily distracted and am not a very good sheep.  Please do whatever it takes to teach me to cling to you: You are the only anchor.  I know that’s dangerous to pray, but not as dangerous as leaving me to my own discipline or desires.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I guess in all of these posts and all these ramblings, if we can take our eyes off ourselves and stick them on Him, we’re getting someplace.  It’s not about personality or who we are, what we are capable of or whether we think this or that. It’s about Him, his example, his commands and His Spirit.

 

 

 

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