Prayer: Not Optional

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed (Mark 1:35).

This description of Jesus’ early morning activity – prayer – hits me where I live.   If the Son of God needed to begin his day by finding a quiet place in which to pray, how much more do I?   If I mean it when I say I want to be like Jesus then at the very least I ought to imitate his habits.   Jesus prayed.  And therefore so should I.


John Meunier shared a post from his bishop relating a conversation with a visiting African bishop.   The African offered his views on some of the things the American church needed, and at the top of his list was prayer.  He said,

The American church is not a praying church. You say lots of prayers, but you don’t pray deeply and listen to God. If you really want your church to be more alive, you need to pray for your church, your pastors, and your leaders.

I believe this is right.   It’s been said before, and bears repeating, that the vitality of our churches is not found in how many cars are in the lot on Sunday morning but by how many are there on Tuesday night prayer meeting.

When I find myself lacking in power or vitality it is not hard to diagnose the problem.  It’s almost always a slippage in my prayer life.   It almost always means that for whatever reason I have decided that on this morning (and maybe a string of mornings) I am too busy to pray, or too tired, or too whatever.

What follows here is a powerful sermon about prayer.  I first saw it 18 months ago and still refer to it when I need to recharge my batteries.   I pray we become a people known for being a people of prayer.  For Jesus it was not optional.  May the same be true for us.