Mark records, “Very early in the morning…Jesus got up…and…prayed” (Mk 1:35 NIV). Jesus made deposits each morning so that He could make withdrawals throughout the day. Many of us don’t and it shows! R. A Torrey said, “We are too busy to pray, and so we are too busy to have power. We have a great deal of activity, but we accomplish little.” The pastor of a mega-church acknowledged that for many years he knew more about prayer than he ever practiced. One day God interrupted his schedule and told him to explore, study, and practice prayer until he fully understood it. The results were life-changing. He writes: “It has been twenty years since I began taking time to pray. My life has been transformed. The greatest fulfillment hasn’t been the list of miraculous answers to prayer I’ve received, although that has been wonderful; the greatest thrill has been the quality of difference in my relationship with God. When I started to pray I didn’t know what was going to happen. God and I used to be rather casually related to one another. We didn’t get together and talk very much. Now, however, we get together a lot, not talking on the run, but carrying on substantial, soul-searching conversations every morning for a good chunk of time. I feel as I’ve gotten to know God a lot better since I started praying.” Martin Luther said, “I have often learned more in one prayer than I have been able to glean from much reading and reflection.” Do you want to know God better? Start praying!
Holiness isn’t a subject we hear much about these days. So, what does it mean to “be holy”? First, let’s understand what it doesn’t mean: (1) It doesn’t isolate you from the world, it insulates you against it’s negative influences. (2) It’s not a scorecard for deciding who’s close to God and who is not. It’s having a heart that’s aware of your shortcomings and praying, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God” (Ps 42:1 NIV). Holiness means to be set apart in a special and exclusive way, as in Holy Communion where the bread and wine are set apart from everyday use to honor Christ’s death. Or holy matrimony, where a couple promises to be faithful to each other to the exclusion of all others. Chuck Swindoll wrote: “When I was…a…young husband serving in the marines…eight thousand miles away from my wife, I knew Cynthia existed. I could read her letters, and occasionally hear her voice on the phone, but I couldn’t see or touch her. I’d only the memory of us standing together three years earlier before God and a minister who’d pronounced us husband and wife, setting us exclusively to each other for the rest of our lives. We were wed in June 1955, but regardless of how long ago it was, we stood together and committed ourselves to a holy intermingling of our lives. To be intimate with another woman would break that holy relationship, that exclusive oneness. Remembering that helped keep me faithful while we were apart those many months…and it still helps forty-one years later.!”