Just As You Are
“Early in the morning, well before sunrise, Jesus rose and went to a deserted place where he could be alone in prayer.”
February 5, 2021, Words By: Rev. Sarah Wiles, Image By: Unknown
Jesus took time for prayer. This isn’t the only place we see that. There are more than thirty references to Jesus praying. Jesus prayed. He prayed like he needed to pray, like it was essential for him.
Which is fascinating. Why would Jesus need to pray? If prayer is connection with God, and he is God, how much more tapped in can you be? Why would he need to pray?
But all the stories about him agree: he prayed. A lot. And it seemed to have an effect on him. Like here, his prayer seems to give him clarity about his vocation.
He gets interrupted by his anxious disciples with all of their needs, but he doesn’t just tell them to go away, and he also doesn’t just do exactly what they want. Instead, he has a clear sense of vocation. This is what I am here for. His prayer seems to have helped him focus.
Jesus was busy. This is just his first day. His public ministry lasted no more than a couple of years. Those years were packed full. It doesn’t really fit with my image of a holy person, but if we take the Gospels seriously, it’s clear, Jesus was busy.
And, in his busyness, he was a source of grace and healing for the people around him. This is not usually how it works for me. Busyness doesn’t tend to make me more gracious and loving.
But is it possible that God could use us as a source of love and healing in the world, even in our busyness?
Because it would be such a relief if God could use us just as we are. It would mean we don’t have to get to some perfect, minimal, uncluttered life before God can use us.
The life we have right now, with its demands and obligations, the life we’ve been called into with all of its relationships and responsibilities, that’s the life that God wants to use for God’s work of love and healing in the world. This life. Not some other more holy, less busy life. This life.
For Jesus, prayer was essential to stay focused and loving in the midst of his busyness. Prayer was essential. It’s essential for us, especially in seasons of responsibility and busyness. That was true for Jesus. It’s true for us.
There’s a corollary here, that I don’t want us to miss. Prayer is essential when we’re busy. Because prayer isn’t about being passive. Prayer and faithful action are two sides of the same coin.
Martin Luther King prayed. Dietrich Bonhoeffer prayed. Dorothy Day prayed. Revolutionary work for justice and peace always requires prayer.
If we are going to live the lives we’ve been called to, lives that are full of responsibility and relationship, lives that are busy with good work, we have got to pray.
I see you. You’re doing good, beautiful, important work. Some of it obvious and paid: nursing, teaching, counseling, advising, managing, directing. And even more good work that is invisible and unpaid: supporting, listening, parenting, befriending, volunteering, sustaining the world through the daily rounds of love.
All of that is good work. And it is too much if we do not pray.