A close reading of the Gospels shows us that there were several occasions during Jesus" ministry where he withdrew and prayed. Often it was the demands of ministry, after preaching and working several miracles. Other times it was because he was not ready to fully take on opponents like the Pharisees. (Of course, He often did take them on.) Other times it was to pray for direction and strength.
If Jesus had to withdraw and pray why not you and me?
I have just completed a very busy and rewarding time of preaching sandwiched around a wonderful but busy vacation with friars and with my family. I am also at a loss for what to say about the goings on in our nation. As I headed back from a preaching engagement for Unbound in Chicago last weekend I realized that I needed to withdraw and pray and reflect.
Most of you know that I am active on social media, especially Facebook. One good friend of many years, noting my active schedule, has several times complemented me for my boundless energy. Indeed the Lord has blessed me, at the ripe old age of 72, with a great deal of energy and strength. For this I am grateful, but the supply of energy is not infinite, thus the need to slow down. Also, as mentioned above, I am concerned about the direction of our nation, not only as regards what can only be called a circus in Washington, but also the many inanities that I observe happening in the general population. I often feel compelled to make statements on this blog or in the aforementioned media, but find myself at a loss for words. I get tempted to join in the angry rants but realize that this is foolishness.
Fortunately, by the grace of God, I was scheduled for some minor surgery yesterday, the removal of a large cyst from my upper back. The procedure went very smoothly, but the followup requires some slowing down. I see this as a call to prayer and reflection. I have a light ministry schedule this month, several weekend engagements but much time at home here at the friary. I hope to follow the Lord's example and withdraw from the frey a bit to pray and reflect. This does not by any means suggest that I don't care about what's going on, rather that I need to reflect more on how to move forward.
In our overactive and over-stimulated culture withdrawing to pray is often the best thing that we can do--for ourselves, and for those we love and serve.