Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. I woke up at 5 this morning because of jetlag, even though my body was still half asleep. It was good to get up early to read and interact with God in silence. Once I overcame and subdued my fatigue body, I was able to concentrate mentally on my reading. As a full human being, I believe our Lord Jesus went through similar struggle in prayer and meditation just like we do. He made effort to maintain an intimate walk with His Heavenly Father on a daily basis. He did not have access to spiritual books or even personal Bible like we do. But our Lord stayed focus on His Father constantly in prayer…
While it was still night, way before dawn, he got up and went out to a secluded spot and prayed. Simon and those with him went looking for him. They found him and said, “Everybody’s looking for you.” Jesus said, “Let’s go to the rest of the villages so I can preach there also. This is why I’ve come” (Mark 1:35-38 Message). The single most widespread American misunderstanding of prayer is that it is private. Strictly and biblically speaking, there is no private prayer. Private in its root meaning refers to robbery. It is stealing. When we privatize prayer we misuse the common currency that belongs to all. When we engage in prayer without any desire for or awareness of the comprehensive, inclusive life of the kingdom that is “at hand” in both space and time, we deprive the social reality that God is bringing to completion.
Solitude in prayer is not privacy. The differences between privacy and solitude are profound. Privacy is our attempt to insulate the self from interference; solitude leaves the company of others for a time in order to listen to them more deeply, be aware of them, and serve them. Privacy is getting away from others so that I don’t have to be bothered with them; solitude is getting away from the crowd so that I can be instructed by the still, small voice of God, who is enthroned on the praises of the multitudes. Private prayers are selfish and thin; prayer in solitude enrolls in a multi-voiced, century-layered community: with angels and archangels in all the company of heaven we sing, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty.”
Prayer is a means to an end. But the end goal is not egocentric interest but Theo-centric interest (It aims at Thy Kingdom comes and Thy Will be done, as Jesus taught in the Lord's Prayer). If any prayer detours from this very core foundation, it violates its purpose or true meaning. We are praying to a Heavenly Father who cares for both individuality and multitude. We cannot exclude other Christians and humanity when we address God as Heavenly Father of all. He cares for the needs and challenges of a person but not without the context of the needs and challenges of multitude. God cares for you so that you will care for others. When Peter confessed his love to Christ, he was asked to “feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17).
Our solitude time with God is to enter the intimate union with Him (listen and talk to God) or give God the ultimate attention in silence. And this solitude time will always involve the well being of others at the end. God will not whisper a secret word to you without edifying the rest of His people. His love for us is both ‘private’ and ‘public.’ Of course, we will not become a channel of God’s blessing to others without ourselves being connect to His blessing first. Once you are constantly connected to the Source of all blessing and love, your focus of prayer will no longer be egocentric but Theo-centric. You will always look out to the well being of others as a result. Just as Apostle said, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Phil 3:12). Let’s pray for one another in pressing toward this goal of prayer.
Love you in His abundant blessing,