Sometimes it does a body good to just pause.
Not too long ago, I was forced to sit, literally sit for almost three months. Walking was tough because I had to avoid pressure on my right foot. I had to use a walker to move. I could not drive; doctor’s orders.
I found that I had plenty of time to think. I day-dreamed about driving, cooking my own food, mowing the yard, cleaning up the garage, even going to get my own coffee in the kitchen. A lot was taken away from me but a lot was also given.
I had a simple life. That was what was given. More than that; that was the gift.
As we close the chapter entitled “Christ: Our Example”, we conclude by considering Jesus Christ’s lifestyle as our example for prayer and we have to admit that He had a simpler life than we have today. Bingham Hunter states that “part of the reason Jesus had time and energy to pray the way He did was the simplicity of His life” [Hunter, 190].
Jesus owned next to nothing. I have joked with my wife about the awful prospect of her preceding me in death. It is not funny but I try to lighten up the subject by saying I would enroll as a monk in the monastery. My conception of monastic life is that it would be simple and the focus would be on the relationship between the monk and God.*
Jesus spent most of His time on earth with people. He taught them. He was a wonderful role model leader. He spent most of His time passing along ideas about God and right living. He was involved in conversations with people [a favorite teaching technique]. In short, He valued relationships over material possessions. He valued people over accomplishing a lot of business in His daily life.
Jesus was not success-driven as many people are in our culture today. Jesus touted the value of the weak, the meek, the down-trodden. Jesus declared that the way to right relationship with God was to avoid the trappings of distracting wealth and the heady elixir of power over people. In our world today that worships material success and influence over others, His lifestyle would not be the norm.
Jesus thought that His daily work was the work of God the Father and it was. He saw prayer as vital to His ministry and He says it is essential to accomplishing God’s will. Mattew 6:10 “ your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Mark 14:36 “Abba, Father,” ‘He said’, “everything is possible for You. Take this cup from Me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Jesus prayed a long time before selecting His disciples. He prayed before His miracles. When He exorcised demons, He said “this kind can come out only by prayer” [Mark 9:29]. He praised God for His disciples’success. He prayed for His disciples in times of failure and trouble. When He was in tense times, He prayed [for example in Gethsemane]. He prayed before making important decisions; one time He prayed all night before a decision [Luke 6:12].
Hunter indicts our lifestyle today in the words “most of us are too busy coping with existence to see prayer as vital or essential. But life could be simple.” Drive an older car. Wear less trendy clothes. Instead of replacing furniture, consider reupholstering. Eat less meat and more vegetables. If we took a simple approach to life, we would have less need for so much income. We would have more time for prayer.
Then Hunter really drives home the point about what is really important to us. “Who are you really in love with? Is it God? Your spouse? Your children? Friends? Success? Your image? Where is your treasure? There your heart is also. Prayer is basically a matter of priorities, isn’t it?” .
Today it is hard to choose simplicity over complexity. It is so difficult to value people over possessions. It is so counter-intuitive to choose meekness over power.
But maybe Christ our Example is asking us to choose. He did.
*Susan just laughs and says I would never be able to commit to the “vow of silence.”