Luke 5: But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities.  But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.
Busy busy, busy. It seems that the better our technological devices are to help us live life more leisurely, the busier and more stressed out we become. But even in the culture of the first century A.D. getting time alone to meditate and pray took some powerful manoeuvring.
Jesus heals and teaches and amazes people at every turn. And that was where the danger was, for Jesus. He is so popular that His time for the greater things is threatened. If He succumbs to the temptation to pray less because of His busy schedule, then He will be less useful for them than He can be.
In order for the incarnate Son of God (no less) to be able to bring glory to the Father, as was His mission (John 17:4), to seek out the lost (Luke 19:10), to do His Father’s will (John 6:38), He needs to spend time alone with His Father in prayer. So what is a busy Man supposed to do? He will not do what we do.
We are prone to say that the demands of the work necessitate us spending less time in prayer. I was trained in this being considered a good thing. Busyness was considered godliness, if what you were busy at was part of Christian work. The more you did the better. A full day planner was the sign of closeness to God, or so it seemed to the young man that I was when older pastors proudly showed off their full calendars. Wicked pride is what it is.
Jesus didn’t think like that and as much as the old guard complains about the laziness of the young and as much as the young show signs of hiding in their studies, we need to be more like Jesus. Jesus was a busy man. He was constantly being hounded and hunted to help people in some manner. So what DID He do? He frequently got away to be alone to pray. This is what verse 16 is telling us. The force of the verb “withdraw” means that he was continually withdrawing away from people to be alone and pray. He would frequently go to “desolate” places. People would be less likely to follow Him to places of desolation. He would not be interrupted. He could be alone to pray.
This is precisely what Christian workers, especially pastors, need to be doing on a regular, continuing basis. If you are a pastor and do not do this, then you are not fuelling up the way you ought to be. You are not nearly as useful as you may think – even if your work seems to be booming. If you are not a pastor, pray that your pastor will do this and start doing it yourself too. He, and you, will be no use if you do not.
This isn’t about a forty hour week or getting days off or having a sabbatical. It is about maintaining a close walk with God so that when we are called upon we will have something worthwhile to give to those in need, whatever that need is. The answer to an over-busy schedule is to get away and pray and get your head together and fuel up in the Word.
Christians need to do this. They need to leave the work undone and get to doing the work that is done on the knees or all the other work will be done poorly, or worse, detrimentally. We are not the indispensable element in Christian work. He is. And we need to be tapping into Him in prayer by getting away to lonely places where no one else will find us, so that we can pray and truly love our people as we seek to give them the glories that we are called to give.