After having ministered to great crowds, today’s gospel recalls for us, our Lord would withdraw to deserted places in order to spend quiet time with his Father in prayer.
Jesus did this, not because he was avoiding publicity, or because he was shy, or because he was running away from responsibility. Instead, Jesus was setting an example for us, that no matter how busy our lives may have become, personal prayer with God is a non-negotiable essential of the Christian life.
Because we can’t hide our true selves from God, prayer challenges us to face ourselves and present ourselves as we really are, uncensored, with all our brokenness and sinfulness. This, in turn, leads us to reach out to God for the healing, forgiveness, and strength that only he can give.
“Prayer,” Henri Nouwen tells us, “challenges us to hide absolutely nothing from God, and surrender ourselves unconditionally to his mercy.”