And straightway he [Jesus] constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people. And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray.
— Mark 6:45,46
When taking stock of the monumental issues facing the world today, many believers are tempted to succumb to worry, stress, and anxiety. However, living in a mental prison of fear and anxiety is not God’s plan for your life. As a child of God, you can find peace, no matter what storm is raging all around you! Psalm 55:22 states, “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” According to this verse, the way to remain in peace is to spend concentrated time in the presence of the Lord.
Setting time aside to get quiet and seek God so you can hear His voice can be a challenge for busy people. Personally, I am the type of person who loves to be on the go all the time, and there have been times in my life when I neglected to take enough time to be quiet before the Lord. However, a few years ago, He spoke to my heart and called me aside for a special, intense time of prayer and seeking His face. I am so thankful that I heeded His call because that time with God opened my heart so He could show me the areas of my life that required change. During that special time of prayer, I pored over the Scriptures, and as I studied, I found there were many examples in the Bible of believers who sensed a “calling away.” Moreover, I found that each person who obeyed this call to prayer and separated himself for a time of seeking the Lord received divine blessings as a result.
*[If you started reading this from your email, begin reading here.]
Even Jesus had times when He withdrew from the daily schedule of life to give Himself to consecrated times of prayer. An example can be found in Mark 6:45 and 46, which says, “And straightway he [Jesus] constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people. And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray.”
Prior to the events described in this verse, Jesus had just miraculously fed 5,000 people, concluded one of the largest meetings of His ministry, and built momentum and excitement among His followers. In fact, the entire region was buzzing about the miracle of providing supernatural food for the entire multitude. But how did Jesus respond to this astounding event? He told the disciples to get on a ship and sail away; He sent away the crowds; and then He headed for the mountains to pray!
I want you to notice the word “straightway” in Mark 6:45. This word is a translation of the Greek word eutheos, which carries the idea of doing something without any delays, intervening circumstances, or detours. This word speaks both to the timing and the determination of Jesus. His response to a great victory was to withdraw without delay or interruption and get to a place where He could pray to the Father without interference. Jesus sent away the disciples and the multitude so that He might have time alone with God.
Next, notice the word “constrained” in the same verse. This is the Greek word anagkazo, which is a compound of the two words ana and agkale. Ana means up, and agkale means arm. When compounded, the new word paints the picture of a raised arm, which demonstrates force and authority. It literally means to compel by force. In light of the miracle that had just occurred in Jesus’ ministry, I am amazed by the Gospel writer’s choice of these two words “straightway” and “constrained” because it illustrates exactly how Jesus responded to that great meeting: He immediately — with determined force — caused everyone to leave Him alone so that He could pray!
With so much work to be done in our own ministry, I frequently feel compelled to just keep going strong without a break. But that is not what Jesus did. He recognized His need to stay in touch with the Father, even in the midst of successful events. And it’s interesting to note that it was after His time with the Father that Jesus walked on the water and commanded a storm to be still (see Mark 6:47-51). I want to follow Jesus’ example.
Anyone who knows Denise and me and is familiar with our ministry knows that we believe wholeheartedly in working very hard and giving 100 percent to the call of God. But there is a time when each of us must come aside to spend special time with the Lord and press into His presence so He can refresh us and renew us by His Spirit, just as Jesus did after He fed the multitude. So I have determined to carve out special time with the Father — to pray, to read His Word, and to fellowship with Him. I set aside time just for Him so He can search my heart and change me and so I can hear Him speak to me with no distractions and interruptions.
I know many people are facing struggles right now, and maybe this is a hard time for you as well. The only way you will get through this time victoriously is by spending time with the Lord and casting the weight of all your cares on Him (see Psalm 55:22). Isn’t it time for you to give God more time than you’ve been giving Him?
If God is calling you to set aside some extra time for Him, you need to be prepared for your flesh to put up a fight! That’s why it’s going to take determination to do it. When other things try to scream for your attention and pull you out of that consecrated place, you have to be determined to stay there unmoved, because that is where your source of strength, your peace, and all your answers will come from.
So obey what the Holy Spirit tells you to do by going to your mountain to be with the Father — in other words, by coming aside every day to spend special time with Him. I guarantee you that your obedience will bring a great reward. As the author of Hebrews declares, “…He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).
It is essential that you make a deliberate effort to regularly spend time in consecrated prayer. Start this week — start today. Start by giving Him at least a few more minutes each day. Then let your special time with the Lord grow and grow until you are finally experiencing quality time with God that surpasses anything you’ve ever known in your life. He will open your heart, remove the things that have troubled you and caused your defeat, refill you with the Holy Spirit, and give you joy unspeakable and full of glory!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, with all that I have to do today, I cannot afford to miss spending time alone with You. I repent for the days I have sought to serve You in my own strength. I was busy, but not always fruitful because I failed to maintain my vital connection with You. Lord Jesus, I deliberately look to You, and I look away from all that would distract my attention from You. Father, I diligently seek You, and I thank You for rewarding me with a greater revelation of Your wisdom and Your ways. Holy Spirit, teach me to order my days with the Lord occupying first place. Please refill me today with Your power and Your joy, which is my impenetrable strength!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I will daily spend time in the Father’s presence. No matter how full my schedule may be, I will come to Him for direction and to be refreshed and renewed. I make God’s Word my priority. I will not allow my flesh to lure me away from staying vitally united to the Vine because apart from Him, I know I can’t do anything of eternal value. I set aside time to read the Word, pray, and fellowship with the Lord. I search my own heart on a regular basis and allow Him to change me so His anointing will flow pure and strong through my life.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Do you spend daily time with the Lord? How do you spend that time?
- Do you have a daily Bible reading plan that helps you spend your time with the Lord? If not, a variety of reading plans are available online and are easy to Having a scheduled plan will help you feel like you are not having to figure it all out on your own.
- I personally have a “place” where I go to read my Bible and to pray. It has become my “mountain” where I retreat from the busyness of life to be with Jesus. Do you have such a place? Where is it?