By Chuck Lawless
Jesus modeled the approach for us. He took three of his disciples up to the mountain to pray, and there God did some magnificent things (Luke 9). Jesus was changed in front of them. Moses and Elijah showed up. The Father spoke from heaven. All of that happened when Jesus took His men to pray.
I am not suggesting that such miracles will always occur when we get away to pray, but I do know we won’t be in such a position for God to work if we never go to Him in focused, intentional prayer. Leaders of God’s church must intentionally get away with Him because . . .
- Jesus is our example. Not only did Jesus take His disciples away to pray, but He also got away alone with the Father (Mark 1:35). If we call ourselves by His name, we need to follow Him.
- Our time with the Father is more important than our time with the crowds. Jesus pushed away from the crowds to get with His Father (Luke 5:15-16). Obviously, we must live in the tension of this balance, but no time with the Father will rob us of power to minister to the crowds.
- We need to slow down if we want to hear from God. Sure, He can speak to us on the run – but He usually must knock us down to get us to listen then. I’d rather simply slow down and seek Him.
- Mountaintop experiences re-invigorate us to engage the needs in the valley. While Jesus and three of His disciples saw God work on the mountain, the remaining disciples were failing to cast out a demon. We live that kind of powerless Christianity if we haven’t been with God—and the valley simply wears us out.
- Going to the mountain is an admission of dependence and a cry for relationship. Alone with God, we cry out, “I need You and I love You. I want to see Your glory.” Leaders who never pray this way may be leading in their own strength.
- We need to teach others to go to the mountain. We must show them, actually. That’s what Jesus did, so we should, too.
How long has it been since you’ve gone to the mountain? Or taken other leaders there just to pray?
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Dr. Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions, Dean of Graduate Studies, and Vice-President for Graduate Studies and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Seminary, in addition to serving as Team Leader for Theological Education Strategists for the International Mission Board. Dr. Lawless served as pastor of two Ohio churches prior to joining the Southern Seminary faculty in 1996. He received a B.S. degree from Cumberland College and M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees from Southern Seminary. He is the author of eight works, including “Membership Matters,” and “Spiritual Warfare,” and has contributed numerous articles to denominational periodicals. He and his wife Pam have been married for more than 20 years and reside in Wake Forest, NC.