Inspired by the LGG study, “The Importance of Prayer”, w2d1
Read: Matthew 14:23 and Mark 1:35; SOAP Mark 1:35
Jesus’ Emphasis on Praying
35 (Then Jesus) got up early in the morning when it was still very dark, departed, (and) went out (to a deserted place), and there he spent time in prayer.Mark 1:35 (NET)
Where did you learn to pray? Perhaps it was at the dinner table or by your bed, maybe it was in church, or in a small group meeting. Wherever it was, whenever it was, and whoever it was that taught you – there is no better place to learn about prayer than in God’s Word from Jesus Himself. Most of us are familiar with the “Lord’s Prayer”, where Jesus taught His disciples how to pray – with examples of what to say. However, throughout His ministry Jesus showed us, by example, so much more about prayer. And as Paul wrote to Timothy, what is written in the Scriptures is meant to train us in righteousness – to equip us for every good work.
One such occasion is found in Mark 1:35. On this particular occasion Jesus did four specific things. He 1got up, 2departed, 3went out and 4spent time in prayer. While I love spending time in prayer the first thing of the morning and believe it is important, I do not believe that this is the main point here; but rather – that He intentionally got up from what He was doing. A couple of translations combine the next two actions (went out and departed) found in this translation and at least four others that I use in my studies, but I love the separation of them. While I agree that they sound or seem similar in nature – “departed” and “went out” – I also believe when separated they tell the more accurate picture of what Jesus was doing. Indulge me for minute. It wasn’t enough for Jesus to just leave the room or the house where He was. After He left He then went out – or went further away from the place where He had been, specifically, to a deserted place. It’s really a beautiful picture and a great illustration for us. In this situation it wasn’t enough for Jesus to be in the next room with the door shut or outside on a ‘porch’. He wanted to make sure He was alone. Why? Because He wanted, and needed, to spend time with His Father in prayer. Knowing His need, He was determined and strategically took precautions against interruptions. He didn’t just need time away from people but time alone with God.
This leads me back to the start of the verse, Mark 1:35, where we read, “THEN Jesus got up …” The word ‘then‘ caused me to look back to see what came before and what I found was that He had been healing the sick (29-34). A similar situation to Mark’s rendering here is found in Matthew 14:13-23, where Jesus had fed thousands and then sent His disciples on ahead of Him and after sending the crowds away He went up the mountain “by Himself” to pray. We would be remiss not to notice that the context of both passages has Jesus needing, not just wanting, to be alone with the Father following the pouring out of Himself to others.
Jesus didn’t always go away alone to pray. Luke 11:1 tells us that after He had finished praying one of the disciples asked Him – “teach us to pray”. He prays a blessing over the food in Matthew 14:19. He also prays in the presence of His disciples in John 17:1-26, as well as in the presence of many witnesses as He hung on the cross Luke 23:33-34, and in one final cry to the father in Matthew 27:46 . However, He certainly did make a habit of getting alone with the Father as seen in our passages today, as well as Luke 5:16 and others. We would do well to follow His examples regularly. Separating ourselves not only from people but distractions of all kinds, including phones and other media devices. The noise and clamor of home or work, the needs and cries of the people, the activities, delights, and pleasures of the world all demand that we separate ourselves, not just to rest but more importantly, to spend time with the Father.
Yet Jesus himself frequently withdrew to the wilderness and prayed.Luke 5:16
For more from The Importance of Prayer, by Love God Greatly, read today’s blog at LoveGodGreatly.com