Andrew and Tricia Dealy are in Chiang Mai, Thailand. (By the way I am at WSN meetings in Oceanside, CA looking out over the Pacific Ocean toward Thailand as I type. Thinking of all of you of course. Everyone says 'hi'.) Their team is at Rajapaht University (say: rawch-uh-POT).
Tricia gives a picture of life in Chiang Mai: "(a week ago) for about 4 hours there was a Thai block party down the road, complete with Thai KARAOKE!!!!!! You wouldn't believe me if I told you how loud it was from inside my living room, even though they are a good 200 yards away."
Their team landed in late August and very quickly met some English speakers. One student, Kim, is an English major who Tricia met the first week. She asked her what it would be like if she introduced the team to all her friends and then they started knowing Christ and the gospel went out to her whole campus through their English department and she was so excited and they shook on it. They are praying that students at Rajapaht University would own the ministry and that they would want to be multipliers - not just learn from the Dealys and their team, but take what they're learning and teach others.
One of their other big prayers is that that their team would keep sacred their time with the Lord. Tricia writes, "We have committed to spending time with the Lord every day, as well as an extended evening with the Lord every Thursday, and lastly a once-a-month entire day with the Lord. Pray that in the busy schedule and lots of ministry activity we wouldn't compromise this time to be with the Lord in the Word and in prayer."
Actually this fits into what I felt like the Lord was leading us to look at this week. I am struck by Luke 5:15, 16. Luke writes that the crowds came to hear Jesus and be healed, "But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed."
But... the crowds came but He got away. His public ministry was so short - only three years. Ministry was booming and He got away. In Mark 1:37 is one of these 'often' times. The whole town was gathered to be ministered to the night before and they are looking for Him, wanting more and He slips away.
Often... It was His practice; His M.O. There goes Jesus again withdrawing to lonely places to pray. Often. Not just when He had had enough. Not just sometimes or once in a while. Not just the 1/2 dozen or so times you can find Him doing this recorded in the gospels. Often. It's like He was obsessed with prayer.... with private prayer.
Withdrew... He left the house.... very early in the A.M.... while it was still dark... privately slips away... a retreat. He leaves. He gets away.
To Lonely Places... To remote places... off the beaten path... three times the gospels record that it was a mountainside... solitary... just with the 12... just with the inner circle... alone... by Himself. He left the crowds.
And Prayed... He went off to be alone yet not really alone. He prayed to the Father. He got alone for some Daddy time. Sometimes He spent the night praying. It was just Him and the Father. As Tricia expressed would be true for their team, He kept this time sacred.
I don't know how this all feels for you. Sometimes it seems so counter-intuitive to leave when ministry is booming or the needs are so pressing or the time is so short. And even if we are prone to withdraw, what would come after 'often' for me or you? I can't say that private prayer would be what people who know me best would say after 'but he often...'
Is the longing of my heart to retreat to a private place for some time with my Father? Do I long for moments to steal away? Do I carve these times into my normal, daily routine much less find times where I leave while its still dark or camp out all night with Him? Certainly my flesh is weak; but is my spirit even willing? Why not?
Am I follower of Jesus into the pattern of His prayer life? Lord, teach me, teach us to pray... as you prayed.