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Prayer in the Wee Hours of the Morning (Mark 1. 35-39)

04 Feb

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Photo by taliesin on Morgue File.

Yesterday we looked at the pericope Mk. 1.29-34. In that pericope, Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law, along with many others and cast out demons. Mark specifically mentions that Jesus did not allow the demons to speak because they knew who he was (Mk. 1.34b). Today we will look at the next pericope and see Jesus ministering through the greater Galilean region.

Here is today’s pericope:

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons. (Mk. 1.35-39)

Jesus had been very busy of late. We know from our last pericope, he had been healing many past sundown. He had a late night. A day of hard work. If I had done even a fraction of what Christ had done the day before, I think I would be looking to sleep in late−to catch a few extra Z’s and rest for a while. But, that is not what Jesus did. How often can it be said that Jesus did the opposite of what I would normally do?!

Instead, Jesus got up, not just early, but Mark makes the point to add, very early, before anyone else was up. He got up in the early morning hours, while it was still dark outside (at least, that’s how I visualize it!)  and he went to a place of solitude to pray. I’m sure he was tired. I’m sure his body wanted rest and more sleep. His muscles may have even been sore or cramping, perhaps his back or head ached from the noise and work of the day before. Yet, Jesus disciplined his body to attend to more important things: to go and pray.

Now, if Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, had to find time to pray, how much more so you and I?

He found a desolate place, a place of solitude and quiet. A place away from the crowd and other people. A place where he could be alone to speak to his Father. What was on his mind? What did he pray? We are not told. It’s very possible he was praying about his ministry which was beginning to get off the ground. He was praying for what was coming. He perhaps was praying for his eager, but still green apprentices. Either way, we are told Jesus made it a point to rise early and seek his Father in prayer.

We do not know how long he was there, but the solitude was broken by Peter and others who had come looking for him. Already, early in the morning people are looking for him. People are clamoring to be near him. People are wanting healings and signs and wonders for them to see.

Jesus instructs Peter, and the others, that they will be pushing on. They will be leaving this area and moving on to other towns and villages in the region of Galilee. There are others who need to hear the gospel. There are others who need a touch from God. There are others who need to be freed from demons and illnesses. And so, they will go on ahead. They will travel and spread the good news of the Christ.

Jesus understood perfectly his mission. He knew what he had been sent to do. And he was busy doing the Father’s will. He was busy ministering to those around him. He was busy proclaiming the kingdom of God to them. He was busy healing their illnesses and casting out demons as demonstrations of his divinity and authority.

Here are 3 things I glean from this pericope:

  1. Prayer is important. It is often times so easy to hit the snooze button or to slouch in front of a TV, rather than seeking God in prayer. We are lazy by nature. We lean to those things that are easy and hassle-free. Prayer is dialogue. Prayer is a conversation between us and God. We must speak, but we must also listen. Long before the travails of Gethsemane, Jesus was disciplined in his praying. Here is a lesson for us. We should be disciplined in our prayer lives, in our quiet times, to seek God when there is no trouble brewing, no storms on the horizon, just a normal day or week. These times will prepare us for the storms which are coming. They will prepare us for the Gethsemanes that will soon come knocking on our door. If Jesus felt the need to pray, how much more so should we?
  2. Ministry is demanding. Jesus’ solitude did not last. Soon he was found and requested to be back at healing and preaching to the masses. As believers, we are called (all of us!) to be ministers. We are called to be the hands and feet of Christ. We are called to show forth the love and grace of Christ to those around us: to our neighbors, to those who are hurting and those in need. Ministering to others is not easy. There are times when we need a break. There are times when we need to seek out solitude. But, those times do not last.
  3. Mission is demanding. Jesus was on mission. He knew his mission and he did it. We too have a mission. We too should see our lives, not as our own, but as God’s. What has God called me to do? What opportunities is God giving to me? Where should I be? What should I be doing? May God help us to live everyday with the mindset of being on mission for him. May we seek everyday to proclaim the good news of Christ and bring glory to his name.
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