Read: John 18
After saying these things, Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley with his disciples and entered a grove of olive trees. Judas, the betrayer, knew this place, because Jesus had often gone there with his disciples. (John 18:1-2, NLT)
We know this grove of olive trees was called the Garden of Gesthemane. By the other Gospel accounts we also know that when Judas showed up with the guards to arrest Jesus in this very place, he was in deep and agonizing prayer. What may be lost amidst the greater drama of Judas’ betrayal and Christ passion, however, are the words, “Jesus had often gone there with his disciples.”
This was a regular place for Jesus. The disciples were familiar with Jesus’ garden retreat; so was the devil, since he knew to inspire Judas to betray the Savior there. Jesus had gone there often enough that those who knew him knew that would be the very place where he prayed.
Have you ever wondered why John took this small, seemingly insignificant detail and tucked it away within the more obvious storyline of Jesus’ arrest? Perhaps he wanted us to see what was plain to Jesus’ disciples: That even the Son of God carved out the time and made room and even found a physical place in his life for regular communion with his Father. Furthermore, Jesus had purposely included his disciples in his private times with God to leave an example for them to show that if he, the very Son of God, needed quiet time, so did they.
So do I—and so do you.
Do you have that regular place? Do the people in your life know where you spend time with God? Does the devil know where to find you? The place itself is not important. The fact that people know that you are regularly in that place is not important. What is important is that you are in that place where you can touch God and God can touch you with his love and grace.
It is said that early African Christians were dedicated and regular in their personal devotion to God. Each one reportedly had a separate spot in the thicket where he would pour out his heart to God. Over time the paths to these places became well worn. As a result, if one of these believers began to neglect prayer, it was soon apparent to the others. They would kindly challenge anyone neglecting their prayer life, “Brother, the grass grows on your path.”
Keep the path to your garden well worn!
“Prayer is the acid test of devotion.” ~Samuel Chadwick
What If God Took Over?
Perhaps making this very moment of devotion a regular part of your life that you fiercely guard will be the beginning of that “familiar place” for you.