Away to Pray

Dennis Voskuil

READ : Matthew 14:22-23

After he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. (v. 23)

Pressed on all sides by crowds who were eager to be healed and taught, assailed by carping scribes and Pharisees, and surrounded by befuddled disciples, Jesus seized upon opportunities to go off by himself to rest and to pray. On this occasion Jesus had sought solace in a boat along the Sea of Galilee when a throng of thousands pursued him. After healing the sick and miraculously feeding the hungry crowd, Jesus went by himself on a mountain to pray.

While most Christian leaders are fully aware of the importance of daily time to bring their own praises and concerns to God, most will confess that they fail to maintain a vital life of prayer. Captured by the never-ending demands of leadership they often attend to immediate concerns but neglect that which is most essential for sustained and faithful ministry: an ongoing interaction with God.

When I was appointed president of Western Theological Seminary, I compiled a short list of p words that would sustain my ministry, and posted it above my desk: patience, persistence, perspective, and prayer, in that order. I soon became aware that the discipline of prayer in my hectic life had to be placed both first and last on my list. While I confess that my life of prayer has waxed and waned over the years, my list of p words continues to remind me that Christian service begins and ends with prayer.


Gracious God, let us embrace the discipline of prayer.