A Pen Sketch

A Pen Sketch.

When God would win back His prodigal world He sent down a Man. That Man

while more than man insisted upon being truly a man. He touched human life

at every point. No man seems to have understood prayer, and to have prayed

as did He. How can we better conclude these quiet talks on prayer than by

gathering about His person and studying His habits of prayer.

A habit
s an act repeated so often as to be done involuntarily; that is,

without a new decision of the mind each time it is done.

Jesus prayed. He loved to pray. Sometimes praying was His way of resting.

He prayed so much and so often that it became a part of His life. It

became to Him like breathing--involuntary.

There is no thing we need so much as to learn how to pray. There are two

ways of receiving instruction; one, by being told; the other, by watching

some one else. The latter is the simpler and the surer way. How better can

we learn how to pray than by watching how Jesus prayed, and then trying

to imitate Him. Not, just now, studying what He _said_ about prayer,

invaluable as that is, and so closely interwoven with the other; nor yet

how He received the requests of men when on earth, full of inspiring

suggestion as that is of His _present_ attitude towards our prayers; but

how He Himself prayed when down here surrounded by our same circumstances

and temptations.

There are two sections of the Bible to which we at once turn for light,

the gospels and the Psalms. In the gospels is given chiefly the _outer_

side of His prayer-habits; and in certain of the Psalms, glimpses of the

_inner_ side are unmistakably revealed.

Turning now to the gospels, we find the picture of the praying Jesus like

an etching, a sketch in black and white, the fewest possible strokes of

the pen, a scratch here, a line there, frequently a single word added by

one writer to the narrative of the others, which gradually bring to view

the outline of a lone figure with upturned face.

Of the fifteen mentions of His praying found in the four gospels, it is

interesting to note that while Matthew gives three, and Mark and John each

four, it is Luke, Paul's companion and mirror-like friend, who, in eleven

such allusions, supplies most of the picture.

Does this not contain a strong hint of the explanation of that other

etching plainly traceable in the epistles which reveals Paul's own

marvellous prayer-life?

Matthew, immersed in the Hebrew Scriptures, writes to the Jews of their

promised Davidic King; Mark, with rapid pen, relates the ceaseless

activity of this wonderful servant of the Father. John, with imprisoned

body, but rare liberty of vision, from the glory-side revealed on Patmos,

depicts the Son of God coming on an errand from the Father into the world,

and again, leaving the world and going back home unto the Father. But Luke

emphasizes the _human_ Jesus, a _Man_--with reverence let me use a word in

its old-fashioned meaning--a _fellow_, that is, one of ourselves. And the

Holy Spirit makes it very plain throughout Luke's narrative that the _man_

Christ Jesus _prayed_; prayed _much; needed_ to pray; _loved_ to pray.

Oh! when shall we men down here, sent into the world as He was sent into

the world, with the same mission, the same field, the same Satan to

combat, the same Holy Spirit to empower, find out that power lies in

keeping closest connection with the Sender, and completest insulation from

the power-absorbing world!

Dissolving Views.

Let me rapidily sketch those fifteen mentions of the gospel writers,

attempting to keep their chronological order.

_The first mention_ is by Luke, in chapter three. The first three gospels

all tell of Jesus' double baptism, but it is Luke who adds, "and praying."

It was while waiting in prayer that He received the gift of the Holy

Spirit. He _dared_ not begin His public mission without that anointing. It

had been promised in the prophetic writings. And now, standing in the

Jordan, He waits and prays until the blue above is burst through by the

gleams of glory-light from the upper-side and the dove-like Spirit wings

down and abides upon Him. _Prayer brings power._ Prayer _is_ power. The

time of prayer is the time of power. The place of prayer is the place of

power. Prayer is tightening the connections with the divine dynamo so that

the power may flow freely without loss or interruption.

_The second mention_ is made by Mark in chapter one. Luke, in chapter

four, hints at it, "when it was day He came out and went into a desert

place." But Mark tells us plainly "in the morning a great while before the

day (or a little more literally, 'very early while it was yet very dark')

He arose and went out into the desert or solitary place and there prayed."

The day before, a Sabbath day spent in His adopted home-town Capernaum,

had been a very busy day for Him, teaching in the synagogue service, the

interruption by a demon-possessed man, the casting out amid a painful

scene; afterwards the healing of Peter's mother-in-law, and then at

sun-setting the great crowd of diseased and demonized thronging the

narrow street until far into the night, while He, passing amongst them, by

personal touch, healed and restored every one. It was a long and

exhausting day's work. One of us spending as busy a Sabbath would probably

feel that the next morning needed an extra hour's sleep if possible. One

must rest surely. But this man Jesus seemed to have another way of resting

in addition to sleep. Probably He occupied the guest-chamber in Peter's

home. The house was likely astir at the usual hour, and by and by

breakfast was ready, but the Master had not appeared yet, so they waited a

bit. After a while the maid slips to His room door and taps lightly, but

there's no answer; again a little bolder knock, then pushing the door ajar

she finds the room unoccupied. Where's the Master? "Ah!" Peter says; "I

think I know. I have noticed before this that He has a way of slipping off

early in the morning to some quiet place where He can be alone." And a

little knot of disciples with Peter in the lead starts out on a search for

Him, for already a crowd is gathering at the door and filling the street

again, hungry for more. And they "tracked Him down" here and there on the

hillsides, among clumps of trees, until suddenly they come upon Him

quietly praying with a wondrous calm in His great eyes. Listen to Peter as

he eagerly blurts out, "Master, there's a big crowd down there, all asking

for you." But the Master's quiet decisive tones reply, "Let us go into

the next towns that I may preach there also; for to this end came I

forth." Much easier to go back and deal again with the old crowd of

yesterday; harder to meet the new crowds with their new skepticism, but

there's no doubt about what _should_ be done. Prayer wonderfully clears

the vision; steadies the nerves; defines duty; stiffens the purpose;

sweetens and strengthens the spirit. The busier the day for Him the more

surely must the morning appointment be kept,[43] and even an earlier start

made, apparently. The more virtue went forth from Him, the more certainly

must He spend time, and even _more_ time, alone with Him who is the source

of power.

_The third mention_ is in Luke, chapter five. Not a great while after the

scene just described, possibly while on the trip suggested by His answer

to Peter, in some one of the numerous Galilean villages, moved with the

compassion that ever burned His heart, He had healed a badly diseased

leper, who, disregarding His express command, so widely published the fact

of His remarkable healing that great crowds blocked Jesus' way in the

village and compelled Him to go out to the country district, where the

crowds which the village could not hold now throng about Him. Now note

what the Master does. The authorized version says, "He withdrew into the

wilderness and prayed." A more nearly literal reading would be, "He was

retiring in the deserts and praying"; suggesting not a single act, but

rather _a habit of action_ running through several days or even weeks.

That is, being compelled by the greatness of the crowds to go into the

deserts or country, districts, and being constantly thronged there by the

people, He had _less opportunity_ to get alone, and yet more need, and so

while He patiently continues His work among them He studiously seeks

opportunity to retire at intervals from the crowds to pray.

How much His life was like ours. Pressed by duties, by opportunities for

service, by the great need around us, we are strongly tempted to give less

time to the inner chamber, with door shut. "Surely this work must be

done," we think, "though it does crowd and flurry our prayer time some."

"_No_," the Master's practice here says with intense emphasis. Not work

first, and prayer to bless it. But the _first_ place given to prayer and

then the service growing out of such prayer will be charged with

unmeasured power. The greater the outer pressure on His closet-life, the

more jealously He guarded against either a shortening of its time or a

flurrying of its spirit. The tighter the tension, the more time must there

be for unhurried prayer.

_The fourth mention_ is found in Luke, chapter six. "It came to pass in

these days that He went out into the mountains to pray, and He continued

all night in prayer to God." The time is probably about the middle of the

second year of His public ministry. He had been having very exasperating

experiences with the national leaders from Judea who dogged His steps,

criticising and nagging at every turn, sowing seeds of skepticism among

His simple-minded, intense-spirited Galileans. It was also the day

_before_ He selected the twelve men who were to be the leaders after His

departure, and preached the mountain sermon. Luke does not say that He

_planned_ to spend the entire night in prayer. Wearied in spirit by the

ceaseless petty picking and Satanic hatred of His enemies, thinking of the

serious work of the morrow, there was just one thing for Him to do. He

knew where to find rest, and sweet fellowship, and a calming presence, and

wise counsel. Turning His face northward He sought the solitude of the

mountain not far off for quiet meditation and prayer. And as He prayed and

listened and talked without words, daylight gradually grew into twilight,

and that yielded imperceptibly to the brilliant Oriental stars spraying

down their lustrous fire-light. And still He prayed, while the darkness

below and the blue above deepened, and the stilling calm of God wrapped

all nature around, and hushed His heart into a deeper peace. In the

fascination of the Father's loving presence He was utterly lost to the

flight of time, but prayed on and on until, by and by, the earth had once

more completed its daily turn, the gray streaks of dawnlight crept up the

east, and the face of Palestine, fragrant with the deep dews of an

eastern night, was kissed by a sun of a new day. And then, "when it was

day"--how quietly the narrative goes on--"He called the disciples and

_chose_ from them twelve,--and a great multitude of disciples and of the

people came,--and He _healed_ all--and He opened His mouth and _taught_

them--_for power came forth from Him."_ Is it any wonder, after such a

night! If all our exasperations and embarrassments were followed, and all

our decisions and utterances preceded, by unhurried prayer, what power

would come forth from us, too. Because as He is even so are we in this


_The fifth mention_ is made by Matthew, chapter fourteen, and Mark,

chapter six, John hinting at it in chapter six of his gospel. It was about

the time of the third passover, the beginning of His last year of service.

Both He and the disciples had been kept exceedingly busy with the great

throng coming and going incessantly. The startling news had just come of

the tragic death of His forerunner. There was need of bodily rest, as well

as of quiet to think over the rapidly culminating opposition. So taking

boat they headed towards the eastern shore of the lake. But the eager

crowds watched the direction taken and spreading the news, literally "ran"

around the head of the lake and "out-went them," and when He stepped from

the boat for the much-needed rest there was an immense company, numbering

thousands, waiting for Him. Did some feeling of impatience break out among

the disciples that they could not be allowed a little leisure? Very

likely, for they were so much like us. But _He_ was "moved with

compassion" and, wearied though He was, patiently spent the entire day in

teaching, and then, at eventime when the disciples proposed sending them

away for food, He, with a handful of loaves and fishes, satisfied the

bodily cravings of as many as five thousand.

There is nothing that has so appealed to the masses in all countries and

all centuries as ability to furnish plenty to eat. Literally tens of

thousands of the human race fall asleep every night hungry. So here. At

once it is proposed by a great popular uprising, under the leadership of

this wonderful man as king, to throw off the oppressive Roman yoke.

Certainly if only His consent could be had it would be immensely

successful, they thought. Does this not rank with Satan's suggestion in

the wilderness, and with the later possibility coming through the visit of

the Greek deputation, of establishing the kingdom without suffering? It

was a temptation, even though it found no response within Him. With the

over-awing power of His presence so markedly felt at times He quieted the

movement, "constrained"[44] the disciples to go by boat before Him to the

other side while He dismissed the throng. "And after He had _taken leave

of them_"--what gentle courtesy and tenderness mingled with His

irrevocable decision--"He went up in the mountain _to pray_," and

"_continued in prayer_" until the morning watch. A second night spent in

prayer! Bodily weary, His spirit startled by an event which vividly

foreshadowed His own approaching violent death, and now this vigorous

renewal of His old temptation, again He had recourse to His one unfailing

habit of getting off alone _to pray._ Time alone _to pray; more_ time to

pray, was His one invariable offset to all difficulties, all temptations,

and all needs. How much more there must have been in prayer as He

understood and practiced it than many of His disciples to-day know.

Deepening Shadows.

We shall perhaps understand better some of the remaining prayer incidents

if we remember that Jesus is now in the last year of His ministry, the

acute state of His experiences with the national leaders preceding the

final break. The awful shadow of the cross grows deeper and darker across

His path. The hatred of the opposition leader gets constantly intenser.

The conditions of discipleship are more sharply put. The inability of the

crowds, of the disciples, and others to understand Him grows more marked.

Many followers go back. He seeks to get more time for intercourse with

the twelve. He makes frequent trips to distant points on the border of the

outside, non-Jewish world. The coming scenes and experiences--_the_ scene

on the little hillock outside the Jerusalem wall--seem never absent from

His thoughts. _The sixth mention_ is made by Luke, chapter nine. They are

up north in the neighbourhood of the Roman city of Caesarea Philippi. "And

it came to pass as He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him."

Alone, so far as the multitudes are concerned, but seeming to be drawing

these twelve nearer to His inner life. Some of these later incidents seem

to suggest that he was trying to woo them into something of the same love

for the fascination of secret prayer that He had. How much they would need

to pray in the coming years when He was gone. Possibly, too, He yearned

for a closer fellowship with them. He loved human fellowship, as Peter and

James and John, and Mary and Martha and many other gentle women well knew.

And there is no fellowship among men to be compared with fellowship _in


"There is a place where _spirits blend_,

Where _friend holds fellowship with friend_,

A place than all beside more sweet,

It is the blood-bought mercy-seat."

_The seventh mention_ is in this same ninth chapter of Luke, and records a

third night of prayer. Matthew and Mark also tell of the transfiguration

scene, but it is Luke who explains that He went up into the mountain _to

pray_, and that it was _as He was praying_ that the fashion of His

countenance was altered. Without stopping to study the purpose of this

marvellous manifestation of His divine glory to the chosen three at a time

when desertion and hatred were so marked, it is enough now to note the

significant fact that it was while _He was praying_ that the wondrous

change came. _Transfigured while praying! _ And by His side stood one who

centuries before on the earth had spent so much time alone with God that

the glory-light of that presence transfigured _his_ face, though he was

unconscious of it. A shining face caused by contact with God! Shall not

we, to whom the Master has said, "follow Me," get alone with Him and His

blessed Word, so habitually, with open or uncovered face, that is, with

eyesight unhindered by prejudice or self-seeking, that mirroring the glory

of His face we shall more and more come to bear His very likeness upon our


"And the face shines bright

With a glow of light

From His presence sent

Whom she loves to meet.

"Yes, the face beams bright

With an inner light

As by day so by night,

In shade as in shine,

With a beauty fine,

That she wist not of,

From some source within.

And above.

"Still the face shines bright

With the glory-light

From the mountain height.

Where the resplendent sight

Of His face

Fills her view

And illumines in turn

First the few,

Then the wide race."

_The eighth mention_ is in the tenth chapter of Luke. He had organized a

band of men, sending them out in two's into the places he expected to

visit. They had returned with a joyful report of the power attending their

work; and standing in their midst, His own heart overflowing with joy, He

looked up and, as though the Father's face was visible, spake out to Him

the gladness of His heart. He seemed to be always conscious of His

Father's presence, and the most natural thing was to speak to Him. They

were always within speaking distance of each other, and always on speaking


_The ninth mention_ is in the eleventh chapter of Luke, very similar to

the sixth mention, "It came to pass as He was praying in a certain place

that when He ceased one of His disciples said unto Him, 'Lord, teach us

to pray.'" Without doubt these disciples were praying men. He had already

talked to them a great deal about prayer. But as they noticed how large a

place prayer had in His life, and some of the marvellous results, the fact

came home to them with great force that there must be some fascination,

some power, some secret in prayer, of which _they were ignorant._ This Man

was a master in the fine art of prayer. _They_ really did not know how to

pray, they thought. How their request must have delighted Him! At last

they were being aroused concerning _the_ great secret of power. May it be

that this simple recital of His habits of prayer may move every one of us

to get alone with Him and make the same earnest request. For the first

step in _learning_ to pray is to pray,--"Lord, teach me to pray." And who

_can_ teach like Him?

_The tenth mention_ is found in John, chapter eleven, and is the second of

the four instances of ejaculatory prayer. A large company is gathered

outside the village of Bethany, around a tomb in which four days before

the body of a young man had been laid away. There is Mary, still weeping,

and Martha, always keenly alive to the proprieties, trying to be more

composed, and their personal friends, and the villagers, and the company

of acquaintances and others from Jerusalem. At His word, after some

hesitation, the stone at the mouth of the tomb is rolled aside. And Jesus

lifted up His eyes and said, "Father, I thank Thee that Thou heardest Me;

and I knew that Thou hearest Me always; but because of the multitude that

standeth around I said it that they may believe that Thou didst send Me!"

Clearly before coming to the tomb He had been praying in secret about the

raising of Lazarus, and what followed was in answer to His prayer. How

plain it becomes that all the marvellous power displayed in His brief

earthly career _came through prayer_. What inseparable intimacy between

His life of activity at which the multitude then and ever since has

marvelled, and His hidden closet-life of which only these passing glimpses

are obtained. Surely the greatest power entrusted to man is prayer-power.

But how many of us are untrue to the trust, while this strangely

omnipotent power put into our hands lies so largely unused.

Note also the certainty of His faith in the Hearer of prayer: "I thank

Thee that Thou heardest Me." There was nothing that could be _seen_ to

warrant such faith. There lay the dead body. But He trusted as _seeing_

Him who is _invisible_. Faith is blind, except upward. It is blind to

impossibilities and deaf to doubt. It listens only to God and sees only

His power and acts accordingly. Faith is not believing that He _can_ but

that He _will_. But such faith comes only of close continuous contact with

God. Its birthplace is in the secret closet; and time and the open Word,

and an awakened ear and a reverent quiet heart are necessary to its


_The eleventh mention_ is found in the twelfth chapter of John. Two or

three days before the fated Friday some Greek visitors to the Jewish feast

of Passover sought an interview with Him. The request seemed to bring to

His mind a vision of the great outside world, after which His heart

yearned, coming to Him so hungry for what only He could give. And

instantly athwart that vision like an ink-black shadow came the other

vision, never absent now from His waking thoughts, _of the cross_ so

awfully near. Shrinking in horror from the second vision, yet knowing that

only through its realization could be realized the first,--seemingly

forgetful for the moment of the by-standers, as though soliloquizing, He

speaks--"now is My soul troubled; and what shall I say? Shall I say,

Father _save_ Me from this hour? But for this cause came I unto this hour:

_this_ is what I will say (and the intense conflict of soul merges into

the complete victory of a wholly surrendered will) _Father, glorify Thy

name_." Quick as the prayer was uttered, came the audible voice out of

heaven answering, "I have both glorified it and will glorify it again."

How near heaven must be! How quickly the Father hears! He must be bending

over, intently listening, eager to catch even faintly whispered prayer.

Their ears, full of earth-sounds, unaccustomed to listening to a heavenly

voice, could hear nothing intelligible. He had a _trained ear_. Isaiah

50:4 revised (a passage plainly prophetic of Him), suggests how it was

that He could understand this voice so easily and quickly. "He wakeneth

morning by morning, He wakeneth mine ear to hear as they that are taught."

A taught ear is as necessary to prayer as a taught tongue, and the daily

morning appointment with God seems essential to both.

Under the Olive Trees.

_The twelfth mention_ is made by Luke, chapter twenty-two. It is Thursday

night of Passion week, in the large upper room in Jerusalem where He is

celebrating the old Passover feast, and initiating the new memorial feast.

But even that hallowed hour is disturbed by the disciples' self-seeking

disputes. With the great patience of great love He gives them the

wonderful example of humility of which John thirteen tells, speaking

gently of what it meant, and then turning to Peter, and using his old

name, He says, "Simon, Simon, behold Satan asked to have you that he might

sift you as wheat, but I made supplication for thee that thy faith fail

not." _He had been praying for Peter by name!_ That was one of His

prayer-habits, praying for others. And He has not broken off that blessed

habit yet. He is able to save to the uttermost them that draw near to God

through Him _seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them_. His

occupation now seated at His Father's right hand in glory is _praying for

each of us_ who trust Him. By name? Why not?

_The thirteenth mention_ is the familiar one in John, chapter seventeen,

and cannot be studied within these narrow limits, but merely fitted into

Us order. The twelfth chapter contains His last words to the world. In the

thirteenth and through to the close of this seventeenth He is alone with

His disciples. If this prayer is read carefully in the revised version it

will be seen that its standpoint is that of one who thinks of His work

down in the world as already done (though the chief scene is yet to come)

and the world left behind, and now He is about re-entering His Father's

presence to be re-instated in glory there. It is really, therefore, a sort

of specimen of the praying for us in which He is _now_ engaged, and so is

commonly called the intercessory or high-priestly prayer. For thirty years

He lived a perfect life. For three and a half years He was a prophet

speaking to men for God. For nineteen centuries He has been high priest

speaking to God for men. When He returns it will be as King to reign over

men for God.

_The fourteenth mention_ brings us within the sadly sacred precincts of

Gethsemane garden, one of His favourite prayer-spots, where He frequently

went while in Jerusalem. The record is found in Matthew twenty-six, Mark

fourteen, and Luke twenty-one. Let us approach with hearts hushed and

heads bared and bowed, for this is indeed hallowed ground. It is a little

later on that same Thursday night, into which so much has already been

pressed and so much more is yet to come. After the talk in the upper room,

and the simple wondrous prayer, He leads the little band out of the city

gate on the east across the swift, muddy Kidron into the inclosed grove of

olive trees beyond. There would be no sleep for Him that night. Within an

hour or two the Roman soldiers and the Jewish mob, led by the traitor,

will be there searching for Him, and He meant to spend the intervening

time in _prayer_. With the longing for sympathy so marked during these

latter months, He takes Peter and James and John and goes farther into the

deeply-shadowed grove. But now some invisible power tears him away and

plunges Him alone still farther into the moonlit recesses of the garden;

and there a strange, awful struggle of soul ensues. It seems like a

renewal of the same conflict He experienced in John twelve when the Greeks

came, but immeasurably intenser. He who in Himself knew no sin was now

beginning to realize in His spirit what within a few hours He realized

_actually_, that He was in very deed to be made sin for us. And the awful

realization comes in upon Him with such terrific intensity that it seems

as though His physical frame cannot endure the strain of mental agony. The

_actual_ experience of the next day produced such mental agony that His

physical strength gave way. For He died not of His physical suffering,

excruciating as that was, but literally of a broken heart, its walls burst

asunder by the strain of soul. It is not possible for a sinning soul to

appreciate with what nightmare dread and horror the sinless soul of Jesus

must have approached the coming contact with the sin of a world. With

bated breath and reverent gaze one follows that lonely figure among the

trees; now kneeling, now falling upon His face, lying prostrate, "He

prayed that _if_ it were possible the hour might pass away from Him." One

snatch of that prayer reaches our ears: "Abba, Father, all things are

possible unto Thee--_if_ it be possible let this cup pass away from Me;

nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt." How long He remained so in

prayer we do not know, but so great was the tension of spirit that a

messenger from heaven appeared and strengthened Him. Even after that

"being in an agony He prayed more earnestly (literally, more stretched

out, more strainedly) and His sweat became as it were great clots of blood

falling down upon the ground." When at length He arises from that season

of conflict and prayer, the victory seems to be won, and something of the

old-time calm reasserts itself. He goes to the sleeping disciples, and

mindful of their coming temptation, admonishes them to pray; then returns

to the lonely solitude again for more prayer, but the change in the form

of prayer tells of the triumph of soul, "O My Father, if this cup

_cannot_ pass away except I drink it, Thy will be done." The victory is

complete. The crisis is past. He yields Himself to that dreaded experience

through which alone the Father's loving plan for a dying world can be

accomplished. Again He returns to the poor, weak disciples, and back again

for another bit of strengthening communion, and then the flickering glare

of torches in the distance tells Him that "the hour is come." With steady

step and a marvellous peace lighting His face He goes out to meet His

enemies. He overcame in this greatest crisis of His life _by prayer_.

_The fifteenth mention_ is the final one. Of the seven sentences which He

spake upon the cross, three were prayers. Luke tells us that while the

soldiers were driving the nails through His hands and feet and lifting the

cross into place, He, thinking even then not of self, but of others, said,

"Father, forgive them, they know not what they do."

It was as the time of the daily evening sacrifice drew on, near the close

of that strange darkness which overcast all nature, after a silence of

three hours, that He loudly sobbed out the piercing, heart-rending cry,

"My God, My God, why didst Thou forsake Me?" A little later the triumphant

shout proclaimed His work done, and then the very last word was a prayer

quietly breathed out, as He yielded up His life, "Father, into Thy hands

I commend My spirit." And so His expiring breath was vocalized into


A Composite Picture.

It may be helpful to make the following summary of these allusions.

1. _His times of prayer_: His regular habit seems plainly to have been to

devote the early morning hour to communion with His Father, and to depend

upon that for constant guidance and instruction. This is suggested

especially by Mark 1:35; and also by Isaiah 50:4-6 coupled with John 7:16

l.c., 8:28, and 12:49.

In addition to this regular appointment, He sought other opportunities for

secret prayer as special need arose; late at night after others had

retired; three times He remained in prayer all the night; and at irregular

intervals between times. Note that it was usually a _quiet_ time when the

noises of earth were hushed. He spent special time in prayer _before_

important events and also _afterwards_. (See mentions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10

and 14.)

2. _His places of prayer_: He who said, "Enter into thine inner chamber

and when thou hast shut the door, pray to thy Father in secret," Himself

had no fixed inner chamber, during His public career, to make easier the

habitual retirement for prayer. Homeless for the three and a half years of

ceaseless travelling, His place of prayer was a desert place, "the

deserts," "the mountains," "a solitary place." He loved nature. The

hilltop back of Nazareth village, the slopes of Olivet, the hillsides

overlooking the Galilean lake, were His favourite places. Note that it was

always a _quiet_ place, shut away from the discordant sounds of earth.

3. _His constant spirit of prayer_: He was never out of the spirit of

prayer. He could be alone in a dense crowd. It has been said that there

are sorts of solitude, namely, of time, as early morning, or late at

night; solitude of place, as a hilltop, or forest, or a secluded room; and

solitude of spirit, as when one surrounded by a crowd may watch them

unmoved, or to be lost to all around in his own inner thought. Jesus used

all three sorts of solitude for talking with His Father. (See mentions 8,

10, 11 and 15.)

4. _He prayed in the great crises of His life_: Five such are mentioned:

Before the awful battle royal with Satan in the Quarantanian wilderness at

the outset; before choosing the twelve leaders of the new movement; at the

time of the Galilean uprising; before the final departure from Galilee for

Judea and Jerusalem; and in Gethsemane, the greatest crisis of all. (See

mentions 1, 4, 5, 7 and 14.)

5. He prayed for others by name, and still does. (See mention 13.)

6. _He prayed with others_: A habit that might well be more widely copied.

A few minutes spent in quiet prayer by friends or fellow-workers before

parting wonderfully sweetens the spirit, and cements friendships, and

makes difficulties less difficult, and hard problems easier of solution.

(See mentions 7, 9 and 13.)

7. _The greatest blessings of His life came during prayer_: Six incidents

are noted: while praying, the Holy Spirit came upon Him; He was

transfigured; three times a heavenly voice of approval came; and in His

hour of sorest distress in the garden a heavenly messenger came to

strengthen Him. (See mentions 1, 7, 11 and 14.)

How much prayer meant to Jesus! It was not only His _regular habit_, but

His resort in _every emergency_, however slight or serious. When perplexed

He _prayed_. When hard pressed by work He _prayed_. When hungry for

fellowship He found it in _prayer_. He chose His associates and received

His messages _upon His knees_. If tempted, He _prayed_. If criticised, He

_prayed_. If fatigued in body or wearied in spirit, He had recourse to His

one unfailing habit of _prayer. Prayer_ brought Him _unmeasured power_ at

the beginning, and _kept_ the flow unbroken and undiminished. There was no

emergency, no difficulty, no necessity, no temptation that would not yield

to prayer, as He practiced it. Shall not we, who have been tracing these

steps in His prayer life, go back over them again and again until we

breathe in His very spirit of prayer? And shall we not, too, ask Him daily

to teach us how to pray, and then plan to get alone with Him regularly

that He may have opportunity to teach us, and we the opportunity to

practice His teaching?