It is said that Jesus got up early in the morning, went out to a quiet spot and prayed to God (Mk.1:35). Peter also carved out time every day to study and pray (Acts 10:9). Both were in the people business, teaching and counselling. It was exhausting. They needed time to refocus, recharge, and they did it in the presence of God. Elijah fled hundreds of miles in an emergency attempt to spend time with God (1 Kings 19). He was not disappointed.
Occasionally someone will pound on the front door of the church building and ask to have a few moments in our auditorium, alone, to pray. Some of them are students far from home, others are troubled people seeking some solace. We welcome them.
Smart Christians know they need time to pray and time with other believers. Our formal church assemblies facilitate this. We gather on Sundays to worship and help each other, and on Wednesdays when we are in the middle of busy weeks and have less time. It takes work to grab such times of refuge. I once knew a wealthy businessman, often away on trips, who owned his own jet so he could make sure he was home on Wednesday nights and be present with his brethren. He was an elder, and often came right form the airport.
Time spent before God with others of like mind is a precious thing. The apostle Paul described the intent of assemblies as “edification, exhortation and consolation” (1 Corinthians 14:3). These terms mean spiritual improvement, teaching that provides encouragement, and comfort for those having a difficult time. We feel the bond of fellowship, receive the care and interest of others, and pause to pray, study and worship together. Names go up to heaven for help and personal issues are sorted out. Love and good humour flows.
A typical week for most of us is full of work, family responsibilities, and all kinds of commitments. But it goes much better if you grab opportunities for refuge. Jesus did; Peter did; Elijah did. Will you add your name to the list?
– Tim Johnson