And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.
Christ often proposed His own temper and actions as the model, after which all His disciples should copy. The multitude and variety of His public services neither prevented His spending a social hour among the families to which His disciples stood related, nor His finding opportunity for secret devotion. For this, Christ was singularly eminent. An old divine used to say three things were requisite to make a good minister: "meditation, temptation, and prayer." If Jesus Christ found it needful and advantageous to engage in retired devotion, how much more so must it be for such weak and imperfect creatures as we are — not only ministers, but private Christians also.
I. THE NATURE AND GROUNDS OF THIS DUTY —
(a) Precepts of Scripture;
(b) Example of Jesus Christ;
(c) Practice of saints in every age;
(d) Important and indispensable part of religion.
II. THE MANNER AND SPIRIT IN WHICH IT SHOULD BE PERFORMED —
(a) Sense of God's presence;
(b) Solemn and devout;
(c) Joined with reading the Scriptures, and meditation, and self-examination.
III. THE PARTICULAR OBJECTS IN RELATION TO WHICH IT IS PRACTISED, Our progress in knowledge, grace, and holiness, and the obtaining guidance and assistance from God in all seasons of peculiar need. There are some particular occasions in regard to which this duty may be practised to advantage. There are some particular seasons in which Christians should be much in private prayer; such as times of affliction, public calamity, prevailing departure from the knowledge, experience, and practice of true religion; seasons of suspense and embarrassment; seasons of ease and prosperity.
IV. THE DIFFICULTY OF A CONSTANT AND SUCCESSFUL ATTENTION TO CLOSET PRAYER.
Parallel VersesKJV: And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.