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  • Writer's pictureDavid and Marilynn Chadwick

How to Pray: Wilderness Prayers

by Marilynn Chadwick


“Jesus repeatedly left the crowds...stealing away into the wilderness to pray” (Luke 5:16 VOICE). 


Nothing about the word wilderness sounds appealing to me. Rather, I imagine it to be empty, lonely, and barren. Yet Jesus found the wilderness to be full of fruit—spiritual fruit. Jesus withdrew often to talk with his father in the wilderness. The Son of God, with divinity downloaded into every gene, still felt the need to separate himself often from the world around him to pray. I wonder what this means for you and me.


Remember, it took real effort to be alone back in those days. Families were big. Homes were tiny. Rooms were shared. Can you imagine the noise and chaos? Jesus had to make an effort to get away. He arose early. It was his custom, we're told. 


The wilderness was the place where he got away from distractions. It's where he spent the night in prayer over the selection of the twelve disciples. It's where he prayed for power. It's where he met God.


The wilderness is also where Jesus met the devil and wrestled over his calling and purpose on earth. For Jesus, the wilderness was full of defining moments in his ministry.


Do you suppose he had a favorite spot? A place under a tree, with a view over Jerusalem? Oh Jerusalem…he wept as he prayed over the city. Imagine how the wilderness reverberated with the voice of the Son of God as he cried out to his Father for the needs of a broken world.


Jesus knew that wilderness time is crucial to a powerful prayer life. Take a minute to reflect on his prayer tip to his disciples about the importance of getting alone with God: “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:6 NLT).


Where do you go to feel close to God? Your room. A favorite chair. Your car. When surrounded by nature. "I encounter God in places where I feel small," a friend once said. Does that describe you?


I encourage you to find a secret place where you can go and “shut the door" to the outside world. Go there to meet with God daily. Early. Spend time in God's Word and prayer. And don't hurry through this "morning watch." If Jesus required time to listen to the Father's Words and interact with him through prayer, how much more do we?


Lord, draw me to times of wilderness with you. Help me carve out the first fruit of my day to seek your face. I commit to laying my requests before you this morning and keeping watch for signs of your work all day long (Psalm 5:3).

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