Jesus has just done the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand. But He did that after He had set out in a boat to find a remote place and found this large crowd on the other side of the lake instead. Now that the crowd has been ministered to and fed, Jesus goes back to seeking time alone with His Father, “Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.”
This is something Jesus did throughout His ministry: He repeatedly retreats to spend time alone with His Father in prayer.
There are times when prayer is best done corporately in large groups, because some decisions need to be taken in large groups. Whether that is a prayer of thanksgiving in regular worship, or an exercise in group discernment prayer for a new pastor, new building or new direction, or it is a time of corporate repentance, large corporate prayer must have a place in every Christ-follower’s life.
Then there are times when prayer is best done in smaller groups. Prayer as ministry demands that (prayer for healing, deliverance and the breaking of strongholds). The one in need prays with the small group – which could be just one more, but is usually two or more. The others stand with them, exercise their spiritual gifting and call on God together. Prayer in small groups is also necessary when seeking spiritual protection, or when encouragement in the Lord or fellowship is a primary need.
But then there are times when prayer simply must be done alone. This is not the pragmatic alone prayer time that most regularly employ. This is time alone with our Father when we need time alone with the Father. Especially when you need prayer for personal recharge.
There are times in each disciples’ life when either the demands of life and ministry have taken so much from you that you are drained, or you are aware that they will shortly do so and you need to be “prayed up” to be able to face them. Like Jesus at this point in His ministry, you know you need to be alone with the Father. As soon as you can reasonably insert such a time into your schedule, you need to do so.
As Jesus Himself said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” So the Psalmist wrote long ago, “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. […] Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.”
Go to God. Alone. He will meet with you, and you will find refreshment in Him.
At home, we take our rest; it is there we find repose after the fatigue and toil of the day. And so our hearts find rest in God, when, wearied with life’s conflict, we turn to him, and our soul dwells at ease.Charles Spurgeon
God alone is our source of every spiritual blessing. Seek Him and you will find Him!