But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. – Luke 5:16 NIV
I guess you could say that my family is spoiled, but we’ve grown accustomed to homemade bread.
Several times a week, I bake sourdough bread. We enjoy having bread we can actually taste. We
don’t have to keep yeast around, because healthy sourdough starter will cause dough to rise just as
well as yeast can and the end product is much tastier and easier for your body to digest. Having
healthy starter around also makes it possible to conveniently enjoy homemade sourdough pancakes,
waffles, rolls, and more instead of settling for facsimiles of those things brought home in a package
from a store.
In order for this to be possible the starter has to be fed regularly, and that requires a little
discipline. Every morning as part of my morning routine, I have to feed the starter. All it takes is a
little flour, a little water, and a little stir. Sometimes when I’m pressed for time I wonder if it is worth
it. But the benefits far outweigh the trouble.
In today’s scripture, Luke implies that Jesus had a consistent routine of prayer. For most of
us, prayer is something we do when we need help or instruction or intervention. Our habit of taking
prayer requests in our services demonstrates that we see prayer as a response to life.
It appears that Jesus’ understanding of prayer was just the opposite. Prayer was the starter.
For Jesus, prayer wasn’t a response to the events of his life; it was out of his habit of prayer that the
events of his life flowed. No matter what his day brought, he was ready. He didn’t have to scramble
around mumbling snippets of prayer under his breath to figure out what God wanted him to do. His
prayer foundation was laid; he just had to listen for the voice he recognized and to look for the work
of the hands that were so familiar.
I think most of our lives would be very different if we adopted Jesus’ perspective on prayer.
If prayer were the initiating activity of our lives, we would spend more time paying attention to what
God was doing, and far less time worrying about the unexpected.
It may take a little work to establish a healthy, well-fed prayer starter, but the benefits far
outweigh the trouble.
Father, help us to learn to make prayer the starter for our lives, and not just a response to it.
– Pastor Bruce Steffensen, Interim Pastor, Holiday Park Church of God, Portland, Oregon