PRAYER OF CONSECRATION
Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.
Jesus, I belong to you.
I lift up my heart to you.
I set my mind on you.
I fix my eyes on you.
I offer my body as a holy and living sacrifice to you.
Jesus, We belong to you.
Praying in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen.
Luke 5:15–16 (NIV)
Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
There has been a little side plot unfolding through these last several episodes of following Jesus. In fact, it persists through the whole story. The more I consider it, the more I think it might actually be the story. You’ve likely noticed it, but I suspect you have not stopped long enough to see it. It’s time to behold it.
Luke 4:42: At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them.
Luke 5:15–16: Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
Luke 6:12: One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.
Luke 9:10: When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida,
Luke 22:39–42: Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
This is the hidden life of Jesus in plain view. And those are just the glimpses revealed in Luke’s Gospel.
I will let my words be fewer today and ask,
What do you see?
How is your sight becoming insight?
Over the past twenty-five years or so I had the good blessing to get to know the late Bishop Sundo Kim from South Korea. Across the many times I was with him I noticed something interestingly peculiar. When he was in a room for a board meeting or other occasion, while everyone else was engaging in the din of small talk, he would sit up in his chair, close his eyes and go into a deep inward prayerful place. I asked him about it once. He told me he was getting in touch with Jesus. He was establishing a touchpoint of abiding. It strikes me that this is what Jesus was doing throughout his days—he was attuning with the Holy Spirit and deepening his attachment with Abba Father.
I started this practice back in the early 2000s. I got pretty good at doing it and then it fell off and I lost it altogether. Truthfully, I have never regained the practice with any consistency. As I reflect back, my departure from the practice traces to June 29, 2007—the release of the very first iPhone. No, I’m not blaming my phone; just observing this was the day when the world entered my pocket—in my hand—every relationship I have ever had, every communication channel I have access to, every entertainment service with every movie ever filmed, all the scrapbooks of every person I ever knew or wondered about, every single bit of information from the history of the universe, every breaking news story in the world, in any place, at any time, every single time, all the time.
All of this began to flood every available space and fill up the margins reserved for time with Jesus. And I don’t think the answer is to get rid of my phone. The problem is not external. It’s internal. The answer is to begin again, relearn, and retrain on this practice of withdrawing from the din of the world in order to draw near to the heart, mind, will, and voice of Jesus. Anyone want to join me? The upcoming forty days of Lent will give us an extended season for such practice. I’d encourage you to also consider our prayer and fasting for life and awakening course.
For now, let’s simply get to a place where we can behold Jesus doing what Jesus does—read those five short texts above again, aloud, taking it all in—like taking a long exposure photograph, a panorama even, letting it imprint on your inmost being and faculties of perception. Just behold him.
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
Our Father, thank you for showing us this path and pattern of your Son, Jesus. Even more, thank you for inviting him into such fellowship with you. It encourages our faith to see Jesus, whom we can see, praying to you, whom we cannot see. In seeing him we are also glimpsing you. How we long to draw into this same fellowship and how we thank you for inviting us inside. Remind us how our prayers are not our striving after you but rather allowing ourselves to be caught up in your gravity, the gravity of the communion and community of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And thank you for the way you draw us together into such a place to know and be known. Holy Spirit, would you teach and train us to learn this way of withdrawing and abiding as we behold Jesus showing us the way. Praying in Jesus’s name, amen.
What if attention to Jesus is resistance to distraction? What if it is like a muscle we must learn to work out simply by stretching our attention to Jesus, starting really small rather than a radical approach; finding a marathoner’s pace rather than a hundred yard dash; a walk around the block rather than a 5K? How might we begin again, and again, and again until we find ourselves embarked?
Our hymn today is “Breathe on Me Breath of God,” hymn 304 in our Seedbed hymnal, Our Great Redeemer’s Praise. As we sing let’s remember our ability to withdraw and draw near to God actually depends on God and not ourselves. He must breathe first. Jesus exhales. We inhale.
For the Awakening,
J. D. Walt
P.S. The Season Ahead: The Forty Days of Lent
Dear Wake-Up Call Nation—we have some goodness ahead for you. Our friend and Farm-Team favorite, Dan Wilt, will be our guide through the forty days of Lent with his now releasing, Jesus in the Wild: Lessons on Calling for Life in the World. If you want to hold a book in your hands get it here. It will be running live daily on the Wake-Up Call daily email and podcast (beginning February 22), so please invite others to join us.
Also make plans also to join us for our Night With New Room: Ash Wednesday (February 22, 2023). It is a gift to you from the SeedTeam but you will need to register here. Many churches are live-streaming the meeting with Jesus along with us and also journeying through the Lent series. We encourage you to participate in Ash Wednesday with your local church regardless of whether they engage the livestream or not. You can always engage with it later at your own leisure.
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JD, you are so correct in comparing spiritual formation to our physical muscles. Either one if not regularly exercised, will eventually atrophy. What you suggest is spiritual therapy. Thanks for the reminder.
Distracted by distractions. Satan doesn’t always tempt us with obvious sins, simple worldly distractions suites him just fine.
Decide to Hide in Christ’s Light!
Jesus invites us to reside
In His presence
And to continually abide
But it’s so easy
To be yanked aside
By the world’s
And to follow it
Stride for stride
Until we collide
The risen Jesus
Is the only guide
Who can lead us
To safely hide
Ever by His side
And to overflow
As we ride
The inner tide
Of His streaming Light.