Baseball players are notorious for their pre-pitch rituals as they get their minds off the last pitch and prepare themselves for what is ahead. Likewise, children are known for developing rituals as they prepare for bedtime. It has been said that
the more detailed the nighttime ritual is for young children, the more secure their life will be.
We all have rituals we practice that have developed over the years that get us set for whatever is coming.
Where does prayer come into play in our “getting set” each day?
It’s interesting that Jesus spent time in prayer before He called His apostles, before He was led away and crucified, and before other important events. You might say that He was getting set through prayer.
Luke 6:12–16 (ESV) — 12 In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: 14 Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
Mark 14:32–37 (ESV) — 32 And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. 34 And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.”35 And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” 37 And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour?
The early church also practiced getting set through a time of prayer. After Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, the disciples returned to Jerusalem to pray which God used to get them set for what was coming – the day of Pentecost.
Before the church at Antioch sent out Barnabas and Saul for the work of the Kingdom, the church spent time in prayer and fasting and before the church ordained elders they spent time in prayer and fasting.
Acts 1:12–14 (ESV) — 12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. 13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. 14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
Acts 13:2–3 (ESV) — 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
Acts 14:23 (ESV) — 23 And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
The point is prayer is more than a pointless ritual – it’s a vital part of getting ready for what is ahead. Unlike the rituals of baseball players and little children, prayer does more than get your mind set or bring you a sense of comfort, although it should do that and more. It should get your mind off you and your circumstances and get your focus on God the Sovereign who rules heaven and earth. It takes your mind off of trying to control things in your power and places your mind on His power. Prayer takes your focus off self and places it on His love and mercy. In other words, prayer does much more than get your mind in gear or make you feel comfortable. Prayer helps in getting control of your thinking as you obediently focus your attention on God.
Philippians 4:4–9 (ESV) — 4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
2 Corinthians 10:4–5 (ESV) — 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
Romans 12:2 (ESV) — 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Prayer really gets you ready to face life and any event you have coming up in life as you express your dependency upon God. Martin Luther once said that when he had a busy day ahead for which it would seem he’d have no time to pray, which was exactly what he needed so he’d arise even earlier than normal so he could spend extra time in prayer. How many times we find ourselves in that situation but instead of taking extra time to pray, we blow it off because we don’t have time?
God has promised grace to the humble, but a deaf ear to those who try to handle life on their own. Feeling a need to pray is grace in itself, finding help to pray is God’s grace, His hearing is grace, and the answers He brings are all evidences of His grace. Living a life of dependency upon God is not only honoring to Him but is a sure sign of Christian growth and maturity, also known as sanctification.
Romans 8:15–17 (ESV) — 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
Romans 8:26–27 (ESV) — 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
James 4:6–10 (ESV) — 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
Hebrews 4:14–16 (ESV) — 14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Are you ready to get set for life? … for that important meeting? … for your next event? Don’t forget the value of getting set through prayer. It will prepare your mind and will also connect you with the living God.
In Revelation 3 the church at Laodicea did not see the value in living in dependency upon God and felt like they could do things without Him. Jesus called them out as in the same way He calls us to repent (turn-around from that self-confident way of living) and to live dependently upon Him. The result will be fellowship with Him and when you experience His presence you will find that He is the one who can calm any storm and give you power to do all things, which is more than a “pump you up” statement to get you thinking you can do it, rather it’s an expression of dependency which really sets the mind and the spirit in the right frame to go forward and face life.
Philippians 4:13 (ESV) — 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Are you “getting set” for life through prayer? If it is not part of your life, I trust you’ll make the change soon. You’ll be glad you did.