TEXT: Matthew 14:22-27
22 And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.
23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.
24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
We are in a series of messages titled “Praying Through the Bible: A Series on Every Passage and Verse Regarding Prayer in the Bible.” The purpose of this series is to encourage and motivate you to pray to the God of the Bible. We highlighted each of these over 500 verses and passages in the Prayer Motivator Devotional Bible. So far, we have completed 132 messages in this series.
This is message #133 titled, The Power of Praying Alone (Part 1)
A few weeks ago, we had the privilege of learning from Jesus’ teaching on prayer in Matthew chapter 6. One of the negative things that He emphasized was the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of His day. Not only in prayer, but in fasting and in giving to the poor, they liked to stand in public places to be seen by others as they did their good deeds. Jesus rebuked that kind of behavior and commanded us to go to our closets and pray to our Father in secret.
In the passage that we are looking at today, we see Jesus Christ practicing what He preached — getting alone with God and praying. His example is important for us to take heed to today because oftentimes, the only time we pray is when we are in church or when we are around other Christians. Many of us have not learned the habit of praying alone.
What are the benefits of praying alone?
First, we see from this passage that praying alone shows that you are serious about your prayer life. Directly preceding Jesus’ private time of prayer, we learn from Matthew chapter 14 that Jesus had just been informed that Herod had beheaded John the Baptist. The Bible tells us that after John’s disciples informed Jesus of this news, Jesus “departed thence by ship into a desert place apart.” Perhaps Jesus was grieving John’s death. Perhaps, even then, he wanted to get alone so He could pray and commune with His Father in Heaven. You can imagine that maybe John’s beheading had brought to the forefront of Jesus’ mind the death that He would have to face shortly.
Whatever the case, Jesus was not able to get alone as He wanted to at that time because the Bible tells us that “when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities.” The multitudes came looking for Jesus, and the next verse tells us that Jesus “saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.” Jesus switched back to ministry mode in order to serve the people. He healed the sick. He taught the people. And, as the evening wore on and the multitude got hungry, he worked the miracle of feeding the 5,000 from just five loaves and two fishes. Jesus had been trying to get alone, but He ended up surrounded by a multitude of hungry people — both physically and spiritually.
Finally, after a long day and evening of ministry, look at what Jesus did. The Bible tells us that “straightway [after feeding the people] Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.” After all that He had done that day, Jesus was determined to get alone so He could pray.
Allow me to pause and say here that over my thirty-five plus years in the ministry, one thing that I have noticed about many pastors who are gifted in various forms of ministry is that, unlike Jesus, they have a hard time praying, they struggle to pray, or they do not pray at all. I have had pastors to admit to me that they do not pray as they should. However, we see here in this passage that Jesus Christ — the Great Shepherd, the first pastor, if you will — took time to pray. It is not just about preaching and “doing ministry.” The power is in prayer. So, dear preacher, dear ministry leader, I want to encourage you to take time to get alone with God and pray.
Now, sometimes, you will have to set some other things aside in order to get alone with God. We notice two things Jesus did in this passage: first, He dismissed the crowd, and, second, He dismissed the disciples. The Bible tells us that “straightway He constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side.” “Straightway” tells us that it was immediately after He fed the 5,000 that He dismissed the disciples. He was urgent about it; He didn’t waste time. Furthermore, the Bible uses the word “constrained” — a very strong word which means “to compel, to drive out, or to force.” It is as if Jesus had to rush the disciples away so He could be alone.
In order to be alone with God, you will have to set aside some other things — even some good things — that you ought to do. You may have to put your ministry work on pause. You may have to put your relationships with others on pause in order to tend to your relationship with the most important Person in the universe. If you are serious about prayer, you will do whatever is necessary to make sure you have that time alone with God. Here’s some advice from Pastor Rick Warren: “It doesn’t matter where you get alone with God. You just need to find a place. I happen to like outside. When my kids were growing up, I actually built a little Prayer Garden down on the slope behind my house where I could get away and pray and focus on God. You need to have a place that’s quiet, a place where you habitually go every time you meet with God. Make it special and specific.”
Oswald Chambers said, “Find an inner room in which to pray where no one even knows you are praying, shut the door, and talk to God in secret. Have no motivation other than to know your Father in heaven. It is impossible to carry on your life as a disciple without definite times of secret prayer.”
How many times of secret prayer have you had in the past week or in the past month? How many times have you shut out everyone else and got alone with God? Yes, you should pray with others, but there is power in praying alone — just you and God together.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Now, if you are with us today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, your first prayer needs to be what we call the Sinner’s Prayer. First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.