MARK 1:35 – And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.
THEME OF THE DAY. WE NEED PRAYER. It was said of Martin Luther that he felt he had so much to do in a day that he must arise early and spend the first three hours in prayer! That is a really good perspective and principle, but not sure of the practice. Don’t misunderstand me. Much prayer, much closeness to the Lord is what we want, but there was only one Martin Luther. Yet, his sense of urgency, dependency, and inadequacy for the work of the Lord and his walk with the Lord is an example to follow.
Beloved, there are times we simply must stop and pray. Yes, even when demands are overwhelming. Yes, even when responsibilities scream for our immediate attention. Yes, even when we feel like the day needs to be thirty-six hours, not twenty-four. Now I am not advocating a loose and irresponsible life of neglecting the things we are to do and the roles we are to fulfill. What I am advocating is that prayer must not be sacrificed, neglected, or relegated to simply something we do over meals or a quick end of the day whisper to the Lord. We need prayer. We need extended times of prayer. We need uninterrupted seasons of prayer. And it isn’t prayer to simply move God to help us in a jam, give us something we want, or fulfill a duty. It is the type of prayer we see in the Lord Jesus – alone time with God out of desire to be with God; to enjoy God; to love God; and commune with Him in the privacy of intimacy with Him. To achieve this type of relational praying, in today’s scripture, the Lord Jesus models three things necessary for this type of deepening relationship with the living God.
First, we must seek God when we are at our best; most alert, attentive, and energetic – “And rising very early in the morning.” I think there is a good bit of scriptural support for starting our day with the Lord, but for those who are not morning people, strive to give God your best time. Don’t give the world and all the temporal things and roles we have our best and give God “leftovers” of time, energy, and mental alertness. To develop a close relationship with the Lord demands giving Him our best availability.
Next, find a place, establish a place free from distractions and interruptions. Oh, that also means no access to phones or computers. Mark tells us Jesus “departed and went out to a desolate place.” If we don’t do this, the “noise” all around us of people, demands, and the world will distract us and no relationship develops when distraction is allowed be it human or divine.
Finally, pray. Yes, pray – “and there He prayed.” The best way to learn to pray is by praying. Use the Bible, especially the Psalms. Pray them to the Lord. Also the Apostle Paul’s prayers in the books of Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. Even the Lord’s model prayer in Matthew 6 and His High Priestly prayer of John 17. Yes, I know this is a “no brainer” but when it comes time to pray, a million things will seek to flood our minds. Some of my best planning seems to come when I am attempting to pray. Fight off these “swarming flies of distracting thoughts” by learning the discipline of really praying. And don’t forget to ask the Spirit of prayer, the Holy Spirit, to help us.
Prayer. We need it, not just as an act of obedience, but to safeguard our fellowship with the Lord. After all, prayer is basically “family language of love.” Keep it that way through the discipline of prayer.
PRAYER: “Father, help me to respond quickly and consistently when prompted by Your Spirit to pray.”
QUOTE: “When we are burdened to pray, don’t silence the burden, but go to prayer – not for God’s help first, but for Him.”