And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.…
The fact that our Lord did withdraw into the wilderness to pray, and that this was not at all a solitary instance of his devotion, may suggest -
I. THAT PRAYER BECOMES THE STRONG AND THE HOLY AS WELL AS THE WEAK AND THE GUILTY, Jesus prayed; the One who was holy, harmless, undefiled, he in whom was no sin. He had no guilt to confess, no mercy to implore, no cleansing of heart to seek of the Holy Spirit. Yet he prayed; and prayer was becoming in him because he could:
1. Render adoration to the God whom he reverenced and whom he revealed.
2. Offer gratitude to the Father who ministered unto him even as unto us.
3. Utter his love and his devotedness to him in whom he rejoiced and on whose great errand of mercy he had come.
4. Ask for the guidance and support he needed at the Divine hand for the future that was before him. For such purposes as these prayer will become us as much in the heavenly kingdom as it befits us now. When we have no sins to acknowledge and no forgiveness to obtain, we shall still need to approach the Divine Spirit to express our adoration, our gratitude, and our love; also to ask for the maintenance and the guidance of that strong hand on which, in every age and in every sphere, we shall be dependent as we are to-day.
II. THAT PRAYER IS PECULIARLY APPROPRIATE BEFORE AND AFTER ALL SPECIAL SERVICES. We have good reason to think that these were the circumstances under which our Lord spent much time in prayer. It is probable that he, under the limitations to which he stooped, found it highly desirable if not needful then. Certainly it is so for us.
1. Before special services we are in greatest need - need of strength and inspiration for the work immediately confronting us.
2. After special services we are in greatest danger; for the human spirit is never so exposed to its spiritual adversaries as in that hour when it relaxes after great spiritual excitement.
III. THAT IT IS NEEDFUL TO SEEK AND TO FIND OPPORTUNITIES FOR PRAYER. Jesus Christ could not have poured out his heart to his Father as he did, and gained the refreshment and strength he gained in prayer, if he had remained in the midst of the curious and exacting throngs who waited upon him. He withdrew himself into the wilderness. We have intimation that he had to make a very strenuous effort to escape from the multitudes and to secure the seclusion he desired. But he made it. And we shall be wise if we do the same. If we only draw near to God and have fellowship with him when we happen to be left alone, and when occasions offer themselves to us, we shall be very lacking in our devotion; the flame of our piety will languish on the altar of our heart. We must make occasion; we must seize opportunity; 'we must compel our life to yield the still hour, when, withdrawing ourselves into solitude, we are alone with God.
IV. THAT IF NEEDFUL TO OUR LORD, HOW MUCH MORE NECESSARY MUST SUSTAINED DEVOTION BE TO OURSELVES! If purity needed to pray, how much more need has guilt! if strength, how much more weakness! if wisdom, how much more ignorance and folly! If our Master did not go forth to great trials or temptations without first attuning his spirit and renewing his strength in the near presence of his Father, how much less shall we venture into the arduous and perilous future without first equipping ourselves at the sacred armoury, without first casting ourselves on God and drawing sustaining and overcoming vigour from his infinite resources! - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.