"And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place and there he prayed. - Mark 1:35
There are no short cuts in the Christian life. Jesus had to do what was necessary to maintain his walk with the Father. He felt the need to pray and had to choose to do it.
He had spent the previous night at Peter’s house after the fullest day imaginable. He had begun that Sabbath morning in the temple, teaching and healing a demonized man, then headed to Peter's house probably for some rest and fellowship with the other men, only to find Peter's mother-in-law very ill with a fever. The Lord healed her completely, so that she arose and served them.
The day was not finished yet, for as the Sabbath was concluding at sunset, a great number of people from all over town came to the door of the house for help. Both the diseased and the demonized came for healing and deliverance and all went away free and whole.
So by the time the Lord went to sleep that evening at Peter's house, he must have been drained and somewhat exhausted. If anyone should have slept in, showing up for breakfast at 9:00 a.m., it should be Jesus after such a day.
But when Peter awoke, he could not find the Lord anywhere. Jesus was already gone to begin the new day. He had an appointment he wanted to keep.
He was up before the crack of dawn and had gone to a lonely quiet place to be alone. But he was not alone. He was with his Father. He was alone in the desert, isolated area just praying, long before the day light would reveal his form.
The Lord attached great importance to private prayer by his public teaching and his personal example. We see several things here about Jesus' prayer life.
1. A Time- “And rising early”- He had a time to do it; he chose a time and used that time. The exact time is not nearly as important as that we HAVE a time, which normally should be the least distracted and most appropriate time for us personally. Do you have a time that you go to private prayer? For some it is at 5:00 am and for others, that time is different. It is not the time of day that is critical, but rather that a time in the day somewhere is used for real and undistracted prayer.
2. A Discipline- “He went out”- Jesus had to chose to go out; he wasn't carried out by angels to the place; he got up and went out; we must follow his example and discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness. It is a choice we must make. If there is no going out, there will be no communion with the Father. Jesus had to choose to do this and we must as well.
Do you go out somewhere to pray? Is there a principle in your heart to go and be alone? Time with the crowd and time with others will rob us of going out to be with our Father in heaven. We must get up and get out there.
3. A Place- "to a desolate place"- Jesus got alone where he could really be alone. For him it was necessary to completely withdraw. The principle is to get really alone where no one will bother you; it may be your backyard, the nearest park, your car in the drive way, or a nearby lake or cemetery. Get to a place where you are really alone. Why did our Lord do this? It was necessary and it was desirable- "to a desolate place."
4. For Solitude- “to a desolate place” means a place of solitude. Really withdrawing to that lonely place brings with it solitude that no place of noise can provide. It means being away from all other people. If we cannot take withdrawing from other people to be alone, then we will never enjoy private communion with God. We must be weaned from men to be give to time alone with God. This is the challenge. Some people spend more time on FaceBook than they do in private prayer because earthly friendships are more real and needed than intimacy with God. If we know others more closely than we know our Saviour, something is definitely wrong. If we are unwilling to be socially weaned from men, we will remain spiritually lean. Do we know what it means to have solitude in a desolate place?
5. The Action- “and there he prayed”- he prayed; Jesus did not just read about prayer in the Old Testament. He didn't just teach about prayer. He didn't run to every weekend seminar there was about prayer or head to Barnes & Nobles to get the newest best-seller on prayer. No- He just prayed. He got up, went out to a specific place that was the best setting for Him to have private prayer and "THERE HE PRAYED".
Better to have a B in a college class and have a prayer life than an A and no prayer life.
Better to have an untidy house with prayer than a perfect house without prayer.
Better to have 5 things undone on your errand list than have an undone prayer life.
There are no short-cuts to spiritual growth and maturity. We can read the best books, go to every good conference, listen to the finest preaching, and be in the best church possible. But if we are not following our Lord's example he has given us in his prayer life, then we will never know the communion with God that could be ours- "And there He prayed."
- Mack Tomlinson