A Lesson about Wholly Refreshing Our Priorities: What is the significance to us to make, take time, with the Holy One? Mark 1:35-39

Mark 1:35-39 New International Version

Jesus Prays in a Solitary Place

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 I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” 39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fideles! Laeti Triumphantes! Venite Adoremus! Dominum

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia! Amen.

What’s least important?

What’s most important?

What has no priority whatsoever?

We usually consider whatever is the most urgent to be the most important.

When we need to use the bathroom, for example, that particular need becomes both urgent and important, something that must for the moment take priority over everything else lest we risk great personal, perhaps public embarrassment.

For a Diabetic individual, monitoring their blood sugar levels throughout the day on a regular basis is quite important as is meal planning and Insulin shots.

Many things take a top priority spot in our lives.

Many things take a low priority spot in our lives.

Higher priority items might sometimes be a classic movie or television show we watched in our youths and now we’ve been waiting to see the reruns streamed.

It might be planning, a “bucket list” trip we want to take, or a special event we want to arrange – a wedding anniversary or attend – your child’s violin recital.

Sometimes it might be something we want to buy, maybe some new music, a pair of jeans, a computer, or have been saving a long time for: a car or a house.

The priority might be education, a relationship, a job, a job promotion, a fun long term project.

It might be recovery, rest and rehabilitation from an illness, an accident, a crime, tragedy or a difficult ordeal – a parent or spouse or child passed away.

Making Time, Taking Time, Giving Time Away

In the streaming series The Chosen, one episode depicts Jesus returning to a camp where he and his disciples are staying for the night.

It is late, and Jesus has spent the day healing crowds of people.

He stumbles into camp, exhausted from the day’s ministry.

The disciples can only watch him, surprised at how tired he is.

His teaching and healing work must have been exhausting.

Though he was fully God, Jesus was also fully human, so he still got tired and still needed his sleep to recover from the days busyness. (Mark 4:38; John 4:6).

A Lesson About Assessing Reassessing Our Priorities

Mark 1:35-39 New Living Translation

Jesus Preaches in Galilee

35 Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. 36 Later Simon and the others went out to find him. 37 When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.”

38 But Jesus replied, “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came.” 39 So he traveled throughout the region of Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and casting out demons.

Prayer is a Priority

Prayer is the kind of priority that lies at the root of all the others — at the root of life itself.

It’s a lot like eating; if we rarely eat, our physical health will suffer.

We’ll be weak and sick.

It will affect our ability to carry on the activities of life.

In a similar way, if we rarely pray, our spiritual life will lack vitality.

We will approach the challenges and successes of life on our own, as though we are not totally dependent on God even for life itself.

Without prayer, we prioritize pride, begin to take credit for the good things in our lives, chalking them all up to our skill, knowledge, wisdom and hard work.

We begin to forget that all our skill, knowledge, wisdom and hard work are gifts of God—God alone gave us the mind, body and circumstances of life which have enabled us to have and develop those attributes.

On the other hand, without the discipline of prayer, we fall into fear, anxious worry and even despair at the failures, frustrations and bad events in our lives.

We become unsure of God’s love for us, unsure that God stands with us, God is always accessible and always available, always receptive in each our problems.

The length and breadth of God’s Word reminds us we will definitely feel alone and afraid, doubtful about our ability to cope with what life is heaping onto us.

The disciplined practice of Prayer is the grease, we might say, which keeps the gears and wheels of life well and sufficiently lubricated, in good working order.

Without prayer, we see ourselves as alone against the world, left to fend off the storms of life on our own wits and brawn.

It is in the course of bending our souls in prayer we learn to see the true state of things — that we are all creatures within God’s creation, creatures dependent on our Maker, on all of the other parts of the creation, and as such, never alone.

Hard to Find Time

It’s a crowded, hectic world for most people.

Opportunities for time alone, much less for prayer, are more and more limited.

Life already has its cascade of immediate demands, its already duly scheduled priorities lined up to overwhelm us and keep us forever playing catch-up—jobs, classes, homework, housework, yard work, kids, church, health problems, car repairs, home repairs, accidents, ants, traffic, crowds, lines, appointments and, oh yes, hopefully prayerfully enough time to experience that good quality sleep.

Of course, there might well also be a considerable amount of time that we could devote to prayer that we use on other things — things that don’t really have the kind or measure of priority that the discipline of prayer should should receive.

For example, most of us have our favorite television show, and that’s fine.

But how often do we find ourselves sitting in front of the television — watching shows we do not really care about, just “lazy television” — just because nobody had the proper measure of motivation to get up and turn the infernal thing off?

We make priorities out of things we care about.

It isn’t that we don’t care about the discipline of regular prayer, it’s just that it often seems like it just becomes one more chore on top of all the other chores we have to get done around the house, and since God does not cry or whine when God does not get his dinner or send collection agents out to repossess the washing machine, we’ll automatically put prayer farther down the priority list.

It might be helpful to see the discipline of prayer in a different light from that of one more chore to get done before supper (or after) turn off the light at night.

Time with God is different from all other time.

It defuses the stress, refreshes and rejuvenates the heart, spirit and the soul.

It relaxes the mind and body to release unto God our worries, our anger, fear and anxieties.

It’s a better antidote to frustration than nibbling on donuts or chocolate bars.

It sufficiently fills our need for intimacy better than affairs or pornography.

It’s a far more productive way to handle anger than exploding at our spouses and children. It lasts; those alternatives don’t.

Therapy, Not a Duty

It’s easy to view prayer as a duty, an obligation.

When we do that, prayer becomes hard, something to put off, a burden and pressure all by itself.

What a tragedy.

We would hardly consider talking to our best friends a duty.

We talk to them because we like them.

It’s a spiritual lift to talk to them.

It helps us feel better, reminds us we are actually not alone in this world, gives us strength to carry on.

It’s harder with God.

God’s invisible.

And God does verbally not say much.

Sometimes we wonder if God’s even there at all.

We have the Bible, but a book is not the actually same as an oral conversation.

Talking to God takes place, you could say, in our heads, by faith, not by sight, taste or touch or sound.

We cannot look God in the eye, smell him, shake his hand or pat his back.

Instead, we “sense” his presence in some spiritual, unseen way.

We believe.

We trust.

We have faith.

The Holy Spirit, also invisible, tasteless and odorless, communicates God’s reality to us on a level other than our five physical senses.

We do not understand it; we can only experience it.

Spending this quality time with God is great therapy.

Therapy is necessary remedial treatment of a bodily disorder, whether physical, emotional or psychological.

When we think of prayer as much needed therapy, rather than as “our Christian duty,” it puts prayer into a clearer perspective, I personally believe.

When we go through our daily, weekly, monthly routines without consciously acknowledging God as the root and core of our lives (which he is), our attitudes, emotions, psyche, even the bones in our bodies (Psalm 6:2, Psalms 31:10, 32:3, Psalm 42:10, Psalm 102:3) suffer the ill effects of trying to live as though we are self-existent — not dependent on God and his creation for our life and being.

To hand over our concerns to God, whether for ourselves or for others, reminds us that our present lives and the remaining future of our life are in God’s hands.

Even our past, with all its baggage of sin, selfishness and ignorance, is in God’s redemptive hands.

The act of acknowledging God as the loving, wise and powerful Being that he is is remedial treatment for fear, worry and frustration.

It’s like an expert massage, removing tension and stress from our muscles, only better.

Who would not appreciate a great massage from God’s own hands every day?

Prayer is the perfect therapy for our tense, knotted and stressed spirits, and the best thing about it … it’s absolutely free!

We can take a moment for a quick spiritual “rubdown” in the form of silent prayer just about any time we want during the day.

And we can set aside time for a good, long session at times that work with our schedules.

Think about it: if we had an unlimited valued gift certificate for a free full-body massage every day, we would likely find a way to work it into our schedules as regularly as possible — even if we had to get up set our alarms before everybody else and hightail it down to the gym or the spa before it opened up at 5:30 a.m.

We would do that because we know what good therapy it is and how good it makes us feel.

Not a Substitute For Action

There is another thing we can learn and appreciate from Jesus’ early morning hike to a solitary place for prayer.

When it’s time for action, it’s time for action.

When your child or your spouse needs your attention, it is not the time to go off and play a round of golf, but is an absolute time for us to stop, drop and to pray.

And the again, when you need to repair a faucet, or make a call, or to prepare a meal, it’s not the time make excuses and to disappear for an hour in a closet.

We can and should be able to pray any time, any place, while we go about our business – but we absolutely need to attend to the business of caring for home.

The time to go to a solitary place for extended prayer is a time when we don’t have other more pressing priorities, duties, responsibilities and obligations.

How did Jesus do it?

In the instance cited in this passage, he got up early, before the regular day’s activities began.

You might find that other times work better for you.

The point is, see prayer as a priority that will make all your other priorities more manageable and less stressful.

Let your prayer time be a time to relax, to let God’s love bathe and salve your frayed nerves, your taut emotions, your exhausted and frightened heart.

Let prayer time be your time to rest in God, to let him renew your strength, brighten your hope, sharpen your faith.

Has prayer slipped to the bottom of your “to do” list? Why not set aside some time today for an overdue therapy session with the Master Therapist?

For reflection:

  • Does prayer seem like a chore to you? Why or why not?
  • Do you have trouble thinking of things to pray about? Have you thought of sitting quietly with God as a valuable part of your prayer time?
  • What are some of the ways prayer has helped you?
  • How would you describe “answered prayer”?
  • What is your favorite place for prayer?

Take Time for the Holy One

Mark 1:35-37 New International Version
Jesus Prays in a Solitary Place

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!”

Our reading for today explains that after a long day of teaching and healing, Jesus rose early in the morning to pray. Jesus needed time to connect with his Father in prayer, resting in his Father’s presence and focusing on his purpose.

He had come to do much more than heal people in Capernaum, even though that was clearly important while he was there.

When the disciples went out and found him, he said, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”

Jesus deliberately, intentionally, purposely moved off quietly, spent time alone in prayer with his Father in Heaven, and he remained focused upon his purpose.

If this was important to Jesus, it is certainly important for his followers too.

There is perhaps no better gage of a man’s spiritual maturity than his secret devotion to God in prayer.

You show me someone that is lax in private prayer, I will show you someone that is a spiritual infant.

I don’t care how long they have known Christ, if they have no secret devotion to God; they remain in a stage of immaturity.

Our public prayers will tend to be ritualistic; they will tend to be mechanical, often repetitious, and sometimes ostentatious.

We will have no appetite for the Word; we will have no burden for the lost.

We will be infatuated with the pleasures of this world.

People without a private prayer life will lack power in ministry.

The theme of Christ will seldom be prominent in their conversations because it’s not dominant in their heart.

In fact I have never met a person with a robust private prayer life who struggles with debilitating depression, addictions, or some life-dominating sin.

I have never heard a spouse complain about a husband or wife who is faithful in private prayer.

I’ve never heard a child weep because they have a father or mother that prays too much.

I would ask everyone, do they only prayer before meals or do they ever pray before dawn?

Most if they are honest, would say their prayer life is limited to before meals.

Or when some great crisis comes into their lives.

But frankly, most people are unfamiliar with the mercy seat.

They are strangers to the throne of grace.

Communing with the Savior of their souls is just not as high priority as it should be because it is not the first and foremost desire of their hearts.

And why is this?

Well partly because we are a very undisciplined people, but primarily also it’s because we prioritize love of other things more than we love the Lord our God.

I have learned that prayer is the drill that bores deep into the caverns of living water.

I have learned that prayer is what calls upon the Spirit to give fresh life to the spiritually dead and dissolve hardened hearts.

As a Lay Pastor, I have learned that it is prayer that ignites a preacher with holy zeal and transforms his clumsy long winded rhetoric into tongues of holy fire.

I have learned, beloved, that it is the personal exercise of prayer, disciplined, fervent, private, persistent prayer that transforms weak, shallow, cowardly Christians, and their “skin and bones” Christianity into mighty warriors of the Cross and that is what Christ wants, I want for you, that is what I want for me.

Dear Christian, secret prayer was our Savior’s habit, the question is, is it ours?

If not, why not?

If the Son of God who had no sin had such an indescribably intense desire to labor in private prayer, how much more should we being so prone to our sin?

Frankly most Christians are mere “spiritual loiterers”, they are not laborers in prayer, and yet this is not the example of the Lord.

As we look at verse 35, again, where we read, “In the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.”

I believe there are 4 great lessons emerging from this text which I pray each of us will take some quality and quantity of time to focus carefully upon:

  1. Prayer reveals an intense longing to commune with God
  2. Prayer should be the first priority to prepare our day.
  3. Solitude is the Sanctuary of prayer.
  4. Prayer is as important in times of blessing as it is in times of distress.

So first, Prayer reveals an intense longing to commune with God.

Let’s look at this more closely.

Now any of us who have ever spent time teaching know it is an exhausting task especially when you are interacting with people as the Lord had done that day.

Then if we have ever experienced intense, powerful healing encounters, and certainly I have never experienced it like Jesus, we cannot appreciate tiredness.

My friends that is utterly exhausting.

Yet, we see here,

He doesn’t give up, He doesn’t stay in bed and sleep.

Instead, we see the incarnate Christ who was without sin, therefore without any need for confession, He had no pleading, no need for forgiveness of sin, and no need for restoration, instead He longs to be with His Father and the Holy Spirit.

Remember, Jesus knew that His source of strength (certainly the place where He would go to supplicate for all that the Father had given Him) was His Father.

But we see in this text from Mark’s narrative that His intense longing for intimate communion was motivated primarily by His perfect love and His intimate enjoyment of “taking time away” his sweet fellowship with Him.

Again, does this describe you?

Hopefully you’ve experienced this at some human level.

Just think of your husband or you wife, those of you that are married.

I know that the times that I have that I can spend with my dear wife is done not out of duty, but out of intense love and intense desire.

It’s motivated by my love for her and her love for me, which results in the true oneness of fellowship and the joy that flows from that.

How much more the soul satisfying perfections of the triune Godhead.

Now think about it very long and very deeply and very intently and purposely,

no man—save the God-man Jesus—has ever known the soul satisfying joy of perfect fellowship and communion with God the Father and the Holy Spirit.

While every saint enjoys some level of faith, joy and fellowship, because of the varying places we are with respect to our walk with Christ, we still, even though our fellowship is imperfect, we still enjoy spending time with the Lord.

How much more so the Lord Jesus?

I think about the imperfect fellowship that we have right now.

Our communion is hampered because of remaining sin, because of our unredeemed bodies that await their final glorification.

That is why Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:9:

“we (only) know in part…but when the perfect comes (eternal state), the partial will be done away…For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; (can you imagine what that will be like), now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known.”

But folks even now in our state of unredeemed humanness, chronic sin, that sweetness, that ineffable joy of communing with the lover of our souls is the single greatest experience that we have available to us this side of heaven.

If that does not ring true of you, then you know nothing of a secret devotion to God in prayer.

All who have truly tasted of the Lord, who have experienced the inexpressible joy of being in His presence, have experienced His power, want more and more.

We are never satisfied – that is why David declared in Psalm 34:8. “O taste and see that the LORD is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.”

Be sure to spend personal time with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit each day.

Joyful Rest in a Frantic World

Psalm 4:6-8 English Standard Version

There are many who say, “Who will show us some good?
    Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!”
You have put more joy in my heart
    than they have when their grain and wine abound.

In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
    for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

The great majority of humans are forever striving after the four winds.

We chase all sorts of things to satisfy our souls but keep ending up empty-handed.

We wonder, “Who will show us some good?”

Put differently, as Mark’s gospel narrative intimates; “Where can I find joy, meaning, and hope in the frenetic pace and frustrating pursuits of this life?”

Thankfully, the psalmist does not leave us to wonder about what we need most:

“Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD.”

The great need of David’s day—and our day, thousands of years later—is to embrace and be embraced by the living God.

So David points out just how the greatest pleasures pale in comparison to finding the one true, living God.

Abounding in life’s good gifts, be they grain or wine or anything else, is certainly no bad thing.

But knowing God through the discipline of prayer is infinitely, gloriously better.

How many people today live in the hope that the experience of tomorrow will bring the joy they seem to lack today?

“Just a little more money; then I can be happy. Just a little more of this or that, and then I will be satisfied.”

But it’s not the promise of a nicer car, a bigger house, a perfect spouse, or a better job that truly gives us lasting peace and rest.

There is only one way to be able to lie down and sleep in peace, content and secure.

What makes such rest possible?

“You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

Only when we find all we need in studying scripture, knowing the Lord and know He is smiling at us will we be able to lie down without anxiety or regret.

As we lie down on our bed at night (as Jesus did) and reflect on the day (as Jesus did), or as all of tomorrow’s to-dos race through your mind (as Jesus did), how will we possibly hold it together (again as Jesus did) that very next morning?

What will give you the stability and security that every human being in the world longs for?

In the end, it won’t be the money in your account.

It won’t be the home-security system.

It won’t be enjoying admiration from your community.

It is the example of the disciplined practice of prayer set before us by the Lord Jesus alone, who leads all His beloved children to true peace, rest, and security.

In the arms of the Good Shepherd, you can dwell in safety and rest in peace.

Be sure, when you lie down tonight (as Jesus did) or when worries rear their heads today, to remember our Savior prays for you and is looking after you.

Jesus had a regular, disciplined time to be alone with his Father each day.

His quiet time with his Father was intentional; it was a priority he himself built into his day, and it required his fullest effort — effort to wake up early before everyone else, and effort to go out away from everyone else so he could talk with the Father by himself.

How intentional and how disciplined is your daily prayer time with the Father?

That is where our rest and peace are truly and faithfully, eternally to be found.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

O loving and tender Father, God Almighty who has the power to save, forgive me for those periods in my life when I have let my time with you suffer. I now confess that I let other things and the hectic pace of my life steal away my time with you. It is my prayer that you Empower, inspire, my resolve to fully and faithfully and finally place you first in my whole heart and hard set in my daily schedule. In Jesus’ name, I pray.


Author: Thomas E Meyer Jr

Formerly Homeless Sinner Now, Child of God, Saved by Grace.

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