Mark 1:35-39: Solitary places.
35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: ‘Everyone is looking for you!’ 38 Jesus replied, ‘Let us go somewhere else – to the nearby villages – so that I can preach there also. That is why I have come.’ 39 So he travelled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. ” NIV UK
How could Jesus preach so powerfully and effectively, and keep going? (It is evident that preaching was a priority for Him: verses 38, 39. How could He wield such power in the face of much sickness; exercise such authority in the teeth of immense evil? How could He hold so much influence in one-to-one discipleship? I believe the gospel writers want us to see the big place prayer played in the life of Jesus. There is an inevitable question arising from these accounts: if we are to do the works Jesus did (and even ‘’greater’’ works) how will we do so without imitating His ways? How can we expect to move in the Spirit’s power if we avoid the Spirit’s means?
‘Beware the barrenness of a busy life.’ A busy life doesn’t have to be barren, I know, but there is a kind of prayer-less busyness which is likely to bring a creeping aridity into the soul and turn it into a desert.
Some years ago I was given a biography to read. It told the wonderful story of William Duma, an African preacher/evangelist. He had a remarkable ministry, especially in the realm of healing, However, he also had what he called his ‘trysting place’ – a ‘lover’s retreat’, up in the hills, where he would go and spend regular time in prayer to God. He would often go for several days at a time. However, there came a point where his ministry dried up, and he had to face the fact that he had got so busy he had neglected the ‘trysting place.’ Only after repentance, and a return to his former habits was his ministry re-charged.
None of this is to suggest that we can earn God’s blessing by much prayer. God in His sovereign grace may choose to bless the ministries of people who are not all that prayerful. God has His reasons and He can do whatever He likes for His glory. I’m simply saying that from where I stand, I have to ask myself: ‘How can I expect to minister like Jesus, if I don’t choose to emulate His ways; to follow His habits?’ By God’s grace alone it is possible to rise to this challenge. Today, I am stirred and moved afresh as I feel again in my heart the deepest call of all – the call to pray. May God help me to answer it.
‘Little prayer, little power; some prayer, some power; much prayer, much power.’
PRAYER: Lord, I believe this. Help me to live like I do.