Mark 1:35 “In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.”
The opening chapter of Mark’s Gospel rat-a-tat-tats at the reader. Short story after short story fires away. Mark uses the word “immediately” 10 times in this single chapter. Everything feels fast-paced and urgent. Breathless. Busy.
John the Baptist preaches and baptizes Jesus. Jesus spends 40 days in the wilderness, tempted by Satan. Jesus calls His disciples. He teaches in a synagogue, casts a demon from a man, heals Simon’s mother-in-law, conducts a healing meeting for the entire city (!), heals a leper, and starts traveling and preaching to towns around Galilee. All in chapter 1. Phew!
But tucked in between all of the busyness and craziness, between the miracles and the ministry, we discover this gem. After a long night serving the sick, Jesus quietly gets up early, slips out of the house, finds a secluded place … and prays. It feels like the single centering moment of the chapter.
Our lives seem crammed full from dawn ’til dusk, and beyond. We have so much to do. Morning exercise; making lunches; getting kids to school; work; dinner arrangements; study; more work; and finally … bed. Exhausted, we hit the sack and wonder how we could possibly add another thing to our day. Spiritual disciplines surely belong to those with fewer demands upon them. So we think.
But Mark 1 challenges my self-justification. It mocks my feeble excuses. It scorns my short-sightedness.
Prayer was not another thing Jesus squeezed into His day. On the contrary, it’s what gave His day focus, purpose, and energy.
Each year, Lent challenges us to re-form the habit and lay a stronger foundation in prayer; spoken prayers, written prayers, whispered prayers, any prayers. What might happen within us, through us, and around us, if we nurtured prayer more earnestly in our lives?