People of Prayer
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 (Mark 1:35)
The walk I described in my previous blog ends with a fairly steep descent from the cliffs above Seaford to the seafront, with its beach huts, ice cream kiosks - sadly closed by the time I arrived! - and very welcome benches after some 15 miles. And this one in particular caught my eye.
At the start of Mark’s Gospel, the crowds quickly recognize Jesus as one who has authority, and He becomes a man in demand. We read that, one evening after sunset, the people brought all the sick and demon-possessed to Him, and He healed many who had various diseases and drove out many demons. And it was after this incredible time, which must have extended well into the night, that He got up very early to pray.
If we’re particularly busy or under pressure, often one of the things that so easily drops off our agenda is time alone with God. Somehow, we manage to justify it, feeling that God will understand and that we’ll get back to it when things calm down. But I reckon it was because Jesus was busy and facing so many demands that prayer was so important to Him. It was vital that He kept in touch with His Father.
Martin Luther, the German priest and a leading figure in the Protestant Reformation, is believed to have said “I have so much to do that if I didn’t spend at least three hours a day in prayer I would never get it all done.” And John Wesley, the great 18th century Methodist preacher who spent two hours a day in prayer, said “Prayer is where the action is”. Now it would be easy for us to be intimidated by these examples, seeing them as totally unrealistic or just for spiritual giants. But instead, we should take on board the message they communicate, that prayer must be a priority.
In the great busyness of life Jesus recognised that time alone with His Father was absolutely crucial. He needed to keep the closest possible relationship with Him; He needed to know what His Father wanted Him to do; He, just like us, needed to remind Himself just who His Father was - what He’s like, what He’s done. If prayer was a priority for Jesus, then it has to be for us. It doesn’t necessarily mean we need to be up at the crack of dawn, let alone before it, but it does mean we need to carve out time somewhere in the day to spend with God.
Thank you, Lord, for the privilege of prayer, for being able to speak to you and to hear you speak to us. Help us not to neglect the joy and blessing that time with you brings, and to see in very practical ways how we can make it a priority. Amen