Jesus needed to pray, to spend time with his Father. Jesus modeled prayer for us. He gave us an example to follow.
I went to Galilee, where Jesus prayed.
Getting to the top of Mount Arbel took five minutes, a gentle climb along a stony pathway from the parking lot. It was enough to elevate my heart rate, and for me to spend a few moments catching my breath when I stopped.
The sun beat on my back in the warm, still October afternoon. I wish I had worn lighter clothing. However, soon I could see the cool blue waters of the Sea of Galilee stretching out far below, which made me instantly calm and thoughtful.
The mountain fell steeply at this point until it came to the shoreline. “Be careful not to step too close to the edge,” I was warned. Elsewhere around the shores of the lake, and on the right side of Mount Arbel, the hills undulated with gentle pastures. Large, white rocks dotted the grassland. They looked like suitable seats to rest on and listen to an inspired teacher.
This site could have been the very place Jesus fed thousands of men, women, and children, both physically and spiritually.
Not much has spoiled the Galilean countryside in 2,000 years. The nearest town both then and today is a good distance walk away.
Across from Mount Arbel, a sheer rock face mirrored the cliff edge I stood on. A wide gully ran between the two cliffs down towards the water. When the wind is in an easterly direction, it can rush down the gully and similar ones around the lake and whip up violent squalls on the water. Jesus’ fishermen disciples encountered those storms.
From my experience of sailing on lakes, the wind affected by the contours of the land can confuse a sailor with its constant shifting of direction. The disciples’ small vessel could have flipped like a coin in rough weather.
It was here, overlooking Galilee, Jesus saw his disciples struggling in the high winds on the sea below. The very spot on which I stood could have been the place Jesus went to pray on that stormy night (Mark 6:30-51).
Scripture tells us Jesus often withdrew on the mountain to spend time with his Father. Even with the many needs of the people who came to him for healing and help, Jesus knew that time with God took priority.
Jesus had need himself—to be in solitude with God.
Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.Luke 5:15-16
If Jesus needed to pray, then we do too.
Jesus shows us we should:
- make prayer a priority.
- find a private place to be with our heavenly Father.
- often leave things, no matter how important they seem, and retreat to a place to pray.
- pray before important decisions.
One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles:Luke 6:12-13
The necessity to pray was apparent to his closest followers and it should be to us.
Often the disciples had the opportunity to watch Jesus withdraw at a short distance to pray. One such time prompted a disciple to ask him, “Lord, teach us how to pray.” Surely, these men—God-fearing and law-observing Jews— knew how to pray.
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”Luke 11:1
Yet, something about the way Jesus prayed made them feel they needed to know more. Jesus revealed a different way to pray.
And he taught us too.