Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, He got up, went out, and made His way to a deserted place. And He was praying there.
I love today’s readings. They summarize the activities of the Jesus we know and love—healer, demon-extractor, good-news-spreader, leader, preacher, teacher, friend, mentor, wise man, God in the flesh, man in the flesh, etc.
But there’s one little verse in Mark 1 that I want to pay particular attention to: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, [Jesus] got up, went out, and made His way to a deserted place. And He was praying there.”
Ooh—it’s the Jesus who retreats, prays, rests, wants to be alone, and needs to spend one-on-one time with His Father. We don’t often think of Him as this guy, do we? But I like Him. And I want to be more like Him.
Here’s where I get it wrong: I love sleep. Every morning, 6:30 a.m. ushers in an epic battle between my alarm clock and me. It beeps at me and I hit back. Then we go back and forth until I finally concede and start my day. Needless to say, I don’t often get up before daybreak like Jesus to talk with the Father and recharge.
But just because I stink at mornings doesn’t mean I can’t try to follow Jesus’ example—especially in this particular instance.
When I first read this passage, I walked away asking three questions. And as I began to study and research thereafter, I got my answers.
1. Why did He get up before dawn?
Jesus was a ministry machine. But with that much ministry came fatigue. And with fatigue came the need for renewal. The quiet before dawn was symbolic of new mercies and new hope for a new day so He could face what was ahead.
2. Why did He get up to pray?
Prayer wasn’t an option for Him. It was essential in His relationship with His Father. He prayed for Himself, his mission, his disciples, other believers, and even you. Solitude and focused conversation with God directed His day.
3. Why did He pray in an isolated place?
Jesus was a popular guy. He needed somewhere devoid of distractions and interruptions—a place where He could go to be alone with His Father and gear up to fight the spiritual battle He was up against.
You aren’t called to be an over-committed, overworked, burned-out Energizer Bunny kind of Christ-follower with a spiritual task list that never ends. Jesus wasn’t like that. You aren’t even called to get up early and pray before 4:30 a.m. (Surprise! You can do that anytime.)
But you are called to find your place of service in His kingdom, which includes breaking away often to recharge in a quite space and isolated place through solitude and prayer. If Jesus placed value on these practices, shouldn’t we also?
- If I can do it, then you can do it. Let’s try making Him the first priority on our daily agendas. Can you rise early to commune with God before each day begins?
- Do you have a list of people and things to pray for? If not, make one. Take it with you when you meet with the Lord each morning, then prayerfully put on your armor to face the day ahead.
- Where’s your isolated place? Is it your front porch? Your garage? On a jog through the park? A coat closet where no one can find you? Find it and get there to get away with Him.