Matthew 14:23. When he had sent the multitudes away As well as his disciples, and was now alone, he went up into a mountain apart Though Christ had so much to do with and for others, yet he chose sometimes to be alone; and those are not his followers who are averse to solitude, and out of their element when they have none to converse with, none to enjoy, but God and their own souls; to pray This was our Lord’s business while alone; not merely to meditate, but also, and especially, to pray to his heavenly Father. It is true, he had not the same reasons for prayer that we have, for he had no sins to be pardoned or conquered, nor any depravity of nature to be subdued and taken away; but he had a variety of infinitely important services to perform, many temptations to overcome, and unparalleled sufferings to endure; and in all these, as man, “of a reasonable soul, and human flesh subsisting,” he had need of divine supports and consolations. He had also to pray for mankind in general, and his church in particular, and now especially for his disciples, whom he had just sent to sea, and who, he foresaw, were about to be over-taken by a dreadful storm, and therefore it was necessary he should pray for their preservation, and that their faith might not fail in the midst of their trouble. But in thus retiring to pray, as he often did, our Lord seems chiefly to have intended to set us an example, that we might follow his steps. Like him we must use private, as well as public and social prayer; and, as he directed, Matthew 6:6, must perform it privately. As he dismissed the multitude and his own disciples, we must disengage ourselves from our worldly affairs, cares, and concerns, and even withdraw from our Christian friends and the members of our own families, that we may converse with God in secret. The ministers of Christ, in particular, must take care to mix secret devotion with their public labours for the instruction and salvation of mankind, if they would secure that divine blessing without which neither the most eloquent preaching, nor the most engaging or benevolent conduct, can command or promise success. And when the evening was come This confirms the observation made on Matthew 14:15, that the Jews had two evenings. The latter is here meant, beginning at sunset, and termed by us the twilight: he was there alone And, it appears from Matthew 14:25, there he was till toward morning. The night came on, and it was a stormy, tempestuous night, yet he continued instant in prayer. It is our duty, at least sometimes, upon special occasions, and when we find our hearts enlarged, to continue long in secret prayer, and to take full scope in pouring out our hearts before the Lord.
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