Prayer as Grace

At daybreak he departed and went into a deserted place.
Luke 4:42
But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray.
Luke 5:16
Now during these days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God .”
Luke 6: 12 (NRSV)

In a span of three chapters, we cannot help but notice the place of prayer in Jesus’ life. His need to connect with His Father was as natural to Him as breathing. As food is to the body, prayer is the essence of the soul. If we see prayer as an act of rote ritual or as an absolute, I think we lose sight of how God intended it to be. You see, prayer is an expression of ultimate freedom. Prayer is a choice. It is a chance for us to open ourselves up to receive all God has for us. In order for us to do this, we are to be intentional and take time to stop in the busyness of our lives. Whether this busyness is internal or external, the practice of exercising stillness, or quieting the noise, is a habit that becomes easier the more we do it. To that end, when we have stopped and allowed ourselves to be still, we simply wait and we listen. It is in this act, as we put aside all distractions, that we allow ourselves to experience fully the presence of God by His Spirit. It is in His presence that we encounter more of His redeeming grace and learn to see ourselves for who we are and not who we think we should be.

Henri Nouwen reminds us that prayer is grace. “ We cannot force God into a relationship. God comes to us on his own initiative, and no discipline, effort, or ascetic practice can make him come. All mystics stress with an impressive unanimity that prayer is “grace”–that is, a free gift from God, to which we can only respond with gratitude. But they hasten to add that this precious gift indeed is within our reach. In Jesus Christ, God has entered into our lives in the most intimate way, so that we could enter into his life through the Spirit.
(From You are the Beloved by Henri J.M. Nouwen)

As we begin a brand-new day, let us be drawn into the presence of God reminded of who we are and to whom we belong. Prayer is where grace itself is manifested in its purest form. As we truly receive this gift, we will find the freedom to receive Him as one who is full of mercy and whose healing touch reaches into the depth of our soul. It is in this space of prayer we will experience true emancipation.

This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it .”
Psalm 118:24 (NASB)

The Rev. Martin J. Bastian