Your Greatest Stress-Relieving Habit

As overcomers, we are called to live above the power of stress, but it seems to easy to fall into the lull of pressures, fears and demands. Deadlines await us every day and problems surface constantly.

In the midst of all struggles to overcome the stress factor, I am reminded to learn from the Master’s rhythm; to gain His empowerment and mindset and live above stress.

Jesus faced the most intense experiences a human can handle. He also faced temptations of all kinds without giving in.

Prepared for Stress

In the garden of Gethsemane, you could easily say that the stress potential was at an all time high. Yet somehow, Jesus knew He needed to face it and knew how to face it. God the Father was not going to relieve Him of the situation, but was going to show His glory through the experience.

Jesus was able to undergo that level of pressure, yet still love other people with great compassion. On the cross, He was able to see mankind with forgiving eyes and loving grace.

How Did Jesus Do It?

So here’s the real question: How did He pull this off?

And if you say, “Because He was the Son of God!” then you are giving a cop-out answer. That might work in Sunday School, but the reasons go much deeper.

We have to pull the perspective back a ways, so we can tune into His lifestyle that prepared Him for suffering and the cross.

If you think your life is stressful, Jesus had demands pulling at Him constantly. The miraculous power and authoritative works drew people far and wide to receive from Him. Everywhere Jesus went, people wanted something from Jesus.

  • “Jesus, I have a daughter who is sick. She’s not here but could You heal her?”
  • “Jesus, you don’t know me. I’m a Roman guard. Everyone hates me, but I’ve got a servant who needs to be healed. Could you heal him?”
  • “Jesus, my brother wont divide the inheritance . . . could you do something about it?”
  • “Jesus, could you come to my house and heal my parents?”
  • “Jesus, could you heal my blindness?”

Seeing the miraculous flow through Him, I’m sure some people even came up to Him and asked, “Jesus, I got ripped off on my taxes. Can you take a look?”

The Stress-Free Secret

Of course, Jesus came to live the life of a servant, but He did not live under the demands of mankind. He was not a people pleaser, nor was He answering the every whim that was brought to Him.

His stress-free lifestyle required a certain mindset and clarity regarding His daily rhythm.

Here is one example:

. . . the report went around concerning Him all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities. So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed. Luke 5:15-16 (NKJV)

The key to the stress free lifestyle is found in Jesus’ ability to slip away and practice solitude. His ability to get away from the pressures was remarkable. In fact, you will find many passages where you find Jesus sneaking away to pray, to get with the Father and to align His perspective.

It’s the biggest war over your life. In fact, I think one of satan’s biggest weapons is chronic busyness, where you start your day hitting the gas pedal until the day ends. We toss up a few “help me God” prayers, yet end the day in a pile of absolute exhaustion.

But Why Does He Need to Pray Now?

To some, this can be a little confusing. They may ask, “Why would Jesus need to pray here?”

I mean think about it. He only ministered for about 3 years. What was He doing all those other 30 years? Couldn’t He have prayed then?

Couldn’t He have prayed so much those first 30 years that He could kind of just suck it up and just do the “ministry thing”? He shouldn’t need to pray. I mean He could have gotten ahead right? And yet the Bible says, OFTEN, He slipped away by Himself, went to a lonely place to pray.

He Got Away a Lot

And why so often? This can be confusing to some as well. I mean common, Jesus had a lot to do, don’t you think? Saving the world is a big job! That would take a lot of time wouldn’t it? He came to explain what God is like. I’d say that’s a big, big job! He should be the busiest man on the planet. He literally had the future of the church weighing on His life.  

And yet even with that level of purpose, worlds of responsibility and the daily pull of mankind’s needs, He spent a lot of time getting away.

It happened a lot.

The disciples would look around and say, “Where’d He go? He’s gone again!”

Oh there He goes . . . by Himself to pray.

The Rhythm of Jesus

If you do a study of the Gospels, we often pay great attention to the amount of times that Jesus moves to the crowd and acts in compassion to people. But next time you read the Gospels, take note to how often Jesus moved away from the crowd to be alone to pray.

See how many times he left the crowd to spend time with the Father. Pay attention to how often Jesus would be found alone, to refresh his mind and gather the strength needed to minister to the people present.

But you know what’s strange about Jesus’ prayer life? He went at the most unusual times. In fact, He went at what would seem like really bad times!

One time, Jesus fed about 5 thousand men, so maybe there were about 10 thousand people in all. After He fed them, the people realized it was a miracle and said, “Let’s make Him King!” Many were awakened to the fact that He was the Messiah.

The disciples were probably thinking, “Alright. This is great! This is what we’ve been waiting for! They’re going to make Him king, and we’re close to Him, so they’ll probably make us princes. It’s showtime!”

So they look to talk to Jesus about this and . . . He’s gone again!

“Where’s Jesus? Where’d He go?”

Good thing He didn’t live in today’s culture, because many would try to put a tracking device on Him.

Jesus went to be alone to pray.

“Pray! They’re about to proclaim Him as the Messiah. This is not the time to go and pray!”

And yet there He went to pray.

Teach Us to Pray

In fact, His prayer life was so unusual and so different from the prayers of that day, the disciples finally came and basically said, “OK we give up. Obviously there’s something about prayer that You know about that we sure don’t know about. Lord, teach us to pray.”

When they asked Jesus to teach them to pray, they weren’t saying, “Jesus we’ve never prayed before. Would you teach us how to do something we’ve never done before . . .”

What they were saying is basically, “Jesus, we are familiar with prayer. Most of us have spent all our lives since childhood praying. But there’s something about the way that You pray that’s special. It’s different from the way that we pray. Master, we want to learn to pray the way YOU pray.”

Stress and Prayer

I believe there is a very important relationship between stress and prayer. I don’t mean prayer where you just throw up a bunch of requests before God. I am talking about quieting your heart and doing some exchange with God. Prayer is not just talking to God. It also involves listening and receiving.

In fact, I believe effective prayer is more listening and receiving.

With that in mind, I know there is a relationship between time alone in listening prayer and our ability to be able to handle stress.

If the Lord Jesus Christ Himself found it necessary to often break away to a lonely place by Himself to pray, then I’ve got some news for you and me. We cannot live without this habit. We’re sunk without it.

We Think We Can Get Away Without It

Yet we become deceived that we can get through days without it.

And it’s no wonder that we are the most stressed out generation in history. It’s also tied into the fact that we are the most busy generation . . . ever.

  • No wonder our health is struggling.
  • We’re reaching for addictive habits.
  • Our minds are restless, obsessed and worry ridden.

Changing Your Pace

I have found that my prayer life never develops if I don’t change my pacing. Jesus developed the habit of constantly getting away. I fall into the temptation of, “I will pray. Let me just do this one thing.” That one thing leads to one hundred other things that pile on top.

I need non negotiable time for solitude, but I need to address my lifestyle.

Prayer doesn’t need to be complicated. It doesn’t need to take hours. It just needs to be a muscle that is developed and exercised. Despite what you may think, you cannot live without it.

Many would say, “Mark, my day is so crazy! I have so many plates spinning in the air. I don’t have time to pray.”

Let me kick it up a notch. The more busy and demanding your life is, the MORE you actually need to get alone and get refreshed with God.

Get Rid of the Guilt Cycle

Let’s be honest, most Christians are so busy; insanely busy, that effective prayer is so out of reach. So they relegate to quick prayers that get tossed up.

Because of your insane busyness, your Christian life is filled with so much guilt. You call out upon God mainly when you need things, but there’s no depth of relationship interaction. Calling on God comes down to you just screaming out in the car when you are desperate for help.

And then you say, “Forget it. Prayer doesn’t work,” which then dilutes the power of what’s available.

So be released from a guilt based prayer life and get into relationship.

Set a New Foundation

My challenge to you is not to force a rigid prayer life into your schedule. Set a new foundation for relating to God by making prayer a part of your all day experience. It’s important to have set aside times for prayer. But it’s also important to have a prayer lifestyle, where you are learning to listen and talk to God all day.

But you need those times out, the pauses every day to release your stresses to God and rest in His love for you.

Effective prayer gets our perspective in the right place. When you pray, you can discover what you need to do with your stresses. You may need to break agreement with a mindset that is fueling stress. There may be something you need to release to God that you keep clinging to. There are empty areas of your heart that need to be filled.

You won’t even know what you need unless you take time for needed pit stops. When you give God your most valuable asset, your time, you give Him room to do what only He can do, relieve you of your stress, refresh you and manifest His glory through you.

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