immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. and after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. when evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. and in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. but when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “it is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. but immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “take heart; it is i. do not be afraid.” [matthew 14:22-27]
meeting with God requires intentionality, it requires a reordering of your life and energy. Jesus had enthusiastic followers, some were genuine, others were there for the show, but Jesus never had to be alone if he didn’t want to be. Jesus intentionally moves to action to get alone with his father.
he dismissed his friends, and the crowds.
Jesus has to send people away from him–while you certainly can worship the Father and enter into his presence with others around, but the setting for deep prayer and meditation is the condition of being alone (more on this in a bit). what in your life (even good things) do you need to “dismiss” so that you might make a space to meet with God?
he went up on the mountain.
i don’t want to draw too much out of this that isn’t here, but i at least want to acknowledge that Jesus actively went up to a place that was not crowded, it required effort, a hike up a mountain, especially where there are few roads. at many times in my own experience, being in nature and meeting with God have gone hand in hand, but it isn’t a requirement. meeting with God does however require direction, intention and effort, it is a discipline.
by himself. (alone, in secret)
ecclesiastes 3:1-8 indicates that there is a season for every time under heaven. whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, there is a season for being among the crowds and friends, and there is a season for being alone. some associate aloneness with loneliness, but as john (ryan) says, there is a big difference between being alone, and being lonely. remember Jesus’ command for the Lord’s prayer?
“and when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. but when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. [matthew 6:5-6]
we are told to meet with our Father in the prayer closet, and Jesus practices what he preaches here, knowing that “alone, in secret” is not really a condition that we are ever in, because God is always with us.
meeting with God can happen in the word, in worship, in gospel fellowship and in prayer, but prayer is the supernatural means by which we talk to our great God. oh, that we might become a body of great pray-ers! getting alone, not to be in the dark to accomplish our own selfish desires, but a rich and powerful aloneness that is ignited by powerful prayer, bold prayer, pleading prayer!
we must meet with God–not because it earns us God’s grace or proves that we are followers, but because when we fail to meet with God, we will be overcome by the world, tossed about by the waves of our sin and worldliness, and the waves will beat against our little fishing boat lives. we cry out in fear and hopeless anxiety and crushing depression because we do not expect, recognize, know, or meet with the God who has always been there, God who stands above, and sovereignly commands all the crashing waves, God who is speaking these words to us, even now:
“take heart; it is i. do not be afraid.”
let us meet with him!