Our Lord's Two "Customs"
"... on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom." (v. 16)
One reason there is a casual approach to personal devotions in the Christian church today is a reaction to the legalism of past days. Another reason is the rise of the charismatic movement. In the early days of the charismatic renewal, many of its leaders from the historic denominations who had been fed on a diet of legalism began to emphasize (quite rightly) the joy of knowing Christ's presence through the indwelling Spirit every hour of the day. People in charismatic services often said: "Now I don't have to have a daily quiet time in order to feel God's presence. Every waking minute is a quiet time." Dangerous stuff. The danger lies not in emphasizing that we are in Christ's presence every hour of the day but the de-emphasis on closeting oneself alone with Him in personal prayer and study of His Word.
Although most leaders of the charismatic renewal did not teach or encourage people to dispense with their personal times of devotion with the Lord, many came to believe they could get through the day simply by speaking in tongues. Nothing must become a substitute for those private and personal moments we spend in prayer and communion with Christ. Our Lord knew and sensed the presence of God with Him and in Him to a degree we will never fully experience here on this earth, but it is said of Him in Scripture that He had two "customs." One custom was to go regularly to the house of God; the other was to pray regularly. And these must be our customs too.
Lord Jesus, if You needed to spend time closeted with Your Father in personal prayer, then how much more do I need to also. Help me steer a middle course between legalism and casualness. For Your own dear Name's sake. Amen.
For Further Study
1. What did Jesus teach about prayer?
2. How did He demonstrate it?