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But now more than ever the word about Jesus spread abroad; many crowds would gather to hear him and to be cured of their diseases. But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray. Luke 5:15-16

Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles. Luke 6:12-13

Jesus made prayer a priority.

Crowds craned their necks and cupped their ears to hear the Word. And thousands reached up, needing a cure. The din of human need must have hovered like a cloud over Jesus.

And yet he stole away from the crowds to pray. He could have spent his waking moments meeting needs, telling parables, and confronting haughty Pharisees—acts we associate most with his ministry. Yet girding it all was prayer—as if, without prayer, it would all fall apart like Icarus’ wings shearing off his side when he lost the adhesive that enabled flight.

Prayer held it all together. And Jesus kept to prayer, doggedly grasping what refreshed his soul so he could then be emptied out. Prayer for Jesus seemed to keep his equilibrium. It centered him, focused him for the challenges he faced.

When a skydiver leaves the jump step under the wing, he arches, looking up at the plane. As his fall levels out, the diver scans the ground for a reference point: a barn, a road, a stand of trees. Focusing on that point tells him if he is twisting or turning or even flying upside down. The focal point allows him to stay level, it centers the sportsman for his controlled plummet through the atmosphere.

For Jesus, that focal point was prayer. What steadied him through turbulent times was not just the content of his prayers or the experience of prayer itself but its very regularity. He set time aside and made prayer a priority. And everything else in his life was better served because of it.

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