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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Prayer as Self-Care

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The readings for Sunday, July 19, 2015:

Ephesians 1: 15-23

Luke 18:1-8

At some point, it would be interesting to go through the Gospels to see the spiritual practices that Jesus practices most often.  I suspect we see Jesus at prayer more than any other discipline.

We don’t see Jesus tithe, and we rarely see him going to weekly services. Instead, his prayers undergird his spiritual life and make it possible for him to do the works of charity and healing that he does.

The ministry of Jesus has much to teach us, and one of the most important lessons is that we can't take care of others when we're not taking care of ourselves. Jesus prays, Jesus takes retreats, Jesus shares meals with friends--these are the activities that leave him ready to care for the masses.
Notice that not even Jesus can stay busy all the time. The Gospels give us insight into our own care. Like Jesus and the disciples, many of us are living such busy lives that we don't even have time to eat.

The work of building God's Kingdom in our fallen world will wear us to a husk; it’s true of Christ, and it’s true for us. Notice how many times Jesus finds renewal in retreating and praying.

Most of us live such busy lives that we have built no time for retreats. Even on vacation, many of us are still working. We're still plugged in by way of our cell phones and laptops. And most of us don't take vacations with the aim of spiritual renewal. Instead we take vacations that leave us frazzled and exhausted--we come home needing a vacation to recover from our vacation.

Luckily, Jesus shows us a simpler way to recharge. It's one that you can do anywhere, at any time. Jesus prays. Prayer serves many purposes, but the main purpose is to give us an intimacy with God. Our friendships don't survive long silences. Likewise, our relationship with God thrives when we make time to talk to God.
One reason Jesus came to us was to model the life we're to emulate. And if Jesus prays, we should take our cue from him.

We will not be able to do the work that God calls us to do if we don't practice basic self-care.  Jesus shows us the way.   We need to take time to pray. We need to retreat. It's O.K. to eat a slow meal with friends.

Not only is it O.K., it's essential. Christ, the incarnation of God on earth, needed to take a break. So do we all.

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