Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (Mark 6:31)
The call to come away and rest may be one of the most counter-cultural statements of Jesus! Especially when we consider the circumstances in which it was said. Crowds were coming and going. His popularity was at its height. Our advice to Jesus would be, “Strike while the iron is hot!” We would support and encourage Him to work day and night while He could to achieve maximum impact. Instead, He not only went away to a quiet place, but sometimes He took His top 12 assistants with Him.
When we look at the ministry of Jesus we can see that He certainly had some very long days that extended into the evenings, filled with activity and people. He was not afraid of hard work, nor of encouraging that for others. But, unlike much of our culture today, He was not running toward a horizontal agenda to build a ministry or somehow accomplish something personally. We can fully recall, to our shame, many times when we have been willfully disobedient to Jesus’ call for coming away with Him in order to accomplish horizontal goals and activity.
The foundation of Jesus’ ministry and the key to His effectiveness was the continued times of withdrawal to solitary places so that He could spend time with His Father. It was out of this vertical intimacy that Jesus ministered in power. Mark recorded how Jesus modeled the discipline of prayerful rest for the disciples in a very clear way. Even though interrupted by crowds later in the day, He still ended up on a mountain to pray. The press of ministry did not prevent prayer.
Martin Luther was paying attention to Jesus when he said, “I am so busy today I must pray more.” That only makes sense if we believe, as Jesus did, that the source of life, strength, power, vision, and effective ministry can only be found in the Father . . . seeking His face and enjoying His presence.
Father, how I long to know You and spend time with You as Jesus did. Help me to consistently withdraw to quiet places to seek Your face. I’m sorry for the times I have tried to do Your work in my own strength without depending upon You. Build deep within me the awareness that it is only through You that I am able to minister with eternal significance and effectiveness.
–Adapted from Vertical with Jesus: A 30-Day Journey to Impact Kingdom Living by David and Kim Butts. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.
Praise the God of everlasting kindness (Isa. 54:8). Thank him for exercising kindness, justice, and righteousness—and for delighting in them (Jer. 9:24). Confess any unkind deed or word or thought that has hurt another person. Commit yourself to bearing the fruit of kindness by the power of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22). Ask God to add kindness to your faith (2 Pet. 1:5-7).
Pray that your kind attitude will attract unsaved friends and coworkers to the Lord. Ask God to create natural opportunities for you to share your faith.
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