At daybreak he departed and went into a deserted place. (Luke 4:42 NRSV)

An unwritten motto of our culture is that the busier we are, the happier we are. So we strive to be busy. It's a mistake. Consider Jesus' approach.

By night fall word had spread throughout the town that Jesus was there and that he had the power to heal people. By dusk Mark says the whole city was at Simon's house looking for Jesus. They brought their sick, "with various diseases," hoping that he would be able to heal them. The disciples had never seen such a crowd. With all those people Jesus must have been exhausted. It was probably late when they all left.

Yet early the next morning, before anyone in the house woke up, Jesus left in search of a lonely place, a place where the crowds would be unable to find him, so he could be alone to pray. Jesus, who had given so much of himself to others, needed some time alone with the Father. He who had given so much; needed some time to receive. That's also true of us.

I remember a story of a young man who was talking to a priest, "Hey, Father, you got it all wrong about this God stuff. He doesn't exist. I oughta know."

"Why's that, my son?" asked the priest.

"Well," the man said, "when I was ice-fishing in the Arctic far from the nearest village, a blizzard blew up with wind and blinding snow. I was a goner. So I got down on my knees and prayed real hard, begging God for help."

"And did He help you?" asked the priest.

"Heck no," said the man. "God didn't lift a finger. Some Eskimo appeared out of nowhere and showed me the way."

Prayer is a potent force, even in our unbelief.

Dear God, help me to slow down to pray, so that I can find joy by being close to you. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Ron Newhouse

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