One of the things that marked the ministry of Jesus was His commitment to getting alone to pray. He was constantly active in teaching, healing, and ministering to the multitudes. He poured into the twelve apostles and allowed them into His life. But Jesus prioritized time alone with the Father.
Mark 1:32-34 describes a long night of ministry for Jesus. The whole city came to be healed of diseases and delivered from demonic torment. Verse 35 goes on to say this: “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.” After a grueling night of ministry, Jesus woke up early in the morning to get alone and pray.
This was a pattern for Jesus. Luke 5:15-16 says, “…great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities. So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.”
Jesus demonstrated a tremendous balance between ministering to others and getting alone to pray.
Not only did Jesus model a life of prayer, He also taught it as well:
But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
If we are to follow Jesus’ example, we will have to make our personal devotion to the Lord a top priority. The spiritual disciplines of spending time in prayer and the Word are a pathway to intimacy with God and spiritual growth.
The following are some practical points of how to prioritize your time with God.
Our personal devotion must be:
We must set aside the time for prayer. If we are to grow in relationship with God we must spend time with Him. And if we do not make the time for prayer we will not do it. Since God is always available, it is easy to think that we can just prayer whenever we have some free time. The problem is, that free time never comes.
I encourage you to have a specific time set aside in your day for nothing else but reading the Word and praying. Schedule your time with God and stick with it. This is not legalism, but a spiritual discipline that creates the context for relationship to grow. This is where many believers struggle in their personal devotion; they simply don’t schedule the time or don’t follow through with the schedule.
If we are to have quality time with the Lord, we must be free of distraction. Jesus spoke of going into our room and shutting the door when we pray. We must withdraw from other people, tasks, and activities to have focused time with God.
Talking to God throughout the day is wonderful, but nothing can take the place of focused time alone with God in the secret place. Find the time and place where you can have quality time with God. Shut out distractions and make yourself unavailable to others during that time. I personally find early morning to be the best time for me; but find what works for you and get into a rhythm.
Like Jesus, we must make prayer a regular practice. Again, I encourage you to make personal devotion your highest priority. Be ruthless about spending time with the Lord. Revolve your schedule around your time with God and do whatever you have to do to get into His presence. If you have to wake up early, do it. If you have to forgo other activities, then so be it. If you have to withdraw from people and tasks at times, then make the sacrifice.
If we make a daily practice of reading the Word and spending time in the presence of God, we will see steady growth in our walk with the Lord. God truly is “a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). It takes diligence, focus, and discipline. But the reward far outweighs any price we have to pay.
If we will make knowing God our highest pursuit, then personal devotion will be an outflow of that desire. As we hunger for the reality of genuine relationship with God, we will be drawn to the secret place of His presence.