Luke makes it clear that Jesus withdrew to pray (5:16). The pattern he gives to us in these two verses climaxes in the priority and practice of prayer.
I have no doubt that Jesus prayed in the midst of the activities Luke mentions in 5:15. There are other passages which tell us that Jesus mingled living and praying into a seamless whole. In fact, he could move so easily between speaking to others and speaking to God that it was sometimes difficult to know when he switched from one kind of talking to the other.
This is not a verse which condones a strict separation between working and praying. We can, and should, pray as we move through the day. But even knowing that, we cannot ignore the fact that he “was withdrawing” (a regular pattern) to pray.
There is a dimension of prayer that cannot be “mixed” with activity. Our minds and hearts do not have the capacity to “go deep” and “remain on the surface” at the same time. The Holy Spirit can (and does) take things from the depths, and bring them to the surface, so we can minister with wisdom. I’m not talking about that. I”m talking about the fact that the human is made to concentrate on one thing at a time.
Jesus’ full involvement in ministry meant that there was a dimension of his relationship with the Father that could only be touched and sustained by stepping outside of the ministry itself. He did not fall prey to the mistaken notion that “I can pray while I work,” and make that the defining principle for his life and ministry.
Everytime I think about this, I say to myself, “He was the Son of God; the second person of the Holy Trinity. But he still needed to do this! If he needed it, how can I ever believe that I don’t?”
And that pretty much sums it up for me. No rationalizations. No excuses. No illusions.
“It’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer.”
Song of Solomon 1:4 “Draw me after you and let us run together! The king has brought me into his chambers.”
There is a time for the Bridegroom-king and His bride to run together with their faces side-by-side, facing the task before them. Here continual conversation can happen – but not deeply.
And there is another time, when the bride is drawn to enter into her bridegroom-king’s chambers, close the door behind her, and encounter Him alone, intimately, Face to face.