More than 500 people gathered in the sanctuary at Dawson Memorial Baptist Church, Birmingham, on Feb. 26 to hear Jeremy Morton, co-pastor of First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Georgia, preach on the importance of prayer.
“I’m embarrassed at how many times I’ve skipped prayer time, but by God’s grace I long to be a man of prayer … for the future of the kingdom of God,” Morton said.
Prayer is the most important discipline, habit, pattern and priority of the Christian life, Morton said. “The best of your life, of your family, of your ministry will not come to be until you come to be a passionate man or woman of prayer,”
Morton preached out of Mark 1:35–37, Jesus’ solitary prayer.
“The disciples were busy looking for Jesus, but Jesus was in solitude looking for God,” Morton said. “May we prioritize this most important discipline in our lives.”
What is it that keeps us from prioritizing our prayer life? According to Morton, it’s time.
“We are addicted to busy. Busy is popular. We don’t like to admit when we aren’t busy,” Morton said. “And when we get busy we get stressed, fatigued and irritable.”
But Jesus still found time to pray. And Jesus was in higher demand than anyone in all the earth.
“Jesus was busy,” Morton said. “And Jesus was calm, energized, patient, present and focused where His feet were. He wasn’t looking over the need in front of Him. He addressed it with a spirit of attentiveness.”
In chapter 1, Mark includes just the facts, the big picture. He’s telling the highlights of a really, really important story, Morton said. “It drills down one typical day in the busy life of the Lord Jesus Christ,” Morton said. “Late into the night the focus of Jesus’ ministry is healing people. Jesus is busy all day ministering.”
“All the sick, all the demon-possessed of that city came to Jesus. It says, ‘The whole town gathered at the door.’” Morton said, referencing verse 32.
“I’d understand if He wanted to sleep in the next day … but what does Jesus do? According to verse 35 Jesus got up ‘very early,’ went to a place of isolation and there He prays,” Morton said.
How do we prioritize this most important discipline in our lives? Morton asked. “We must get up. We must go to a special place. And there we pour our heart out to our Father. … There you pray.”
Do Christians fight for solitude with God? Do they seek alone time with God and honor and treasure it? “If Jesus needed to be refilled after pouring Himself out, what about me?” Morton asked. “Apparently Jesus knows there are certain fights … we will never be able to win apart from prayer.”
Churches are filled with people doing it in their own strength, Morton said. “Where’s the touch of God? Where’s the power of God? Little is much when God is in it. Prayer is the way we bring our little to the Lord.”
Strength and support
Prayer is the Christian life support. It gives strength to face the day, strength to face the challenges and trials of life.
“We must give ourselves to disciplined prayer. Morning prayer, evening prayer, prayer time carved out. Put it in your calendar,” Morton said.
“Whatever you are doing, wherever you are going, whatever you are becoming, it will never be the best it can be until it is bathed in prayer,” Morton said. (Jessica Ingram)