Before starting this study, take a moment to read Mark 1:35-39. Although I’ll primarily be using the NIV version for the preparation of this study, you can read from whichever version you prefer.
Jesus was busy healing people, casting out demons, and preaching. Even so, he made it a priority to find a solitary place where he could pray.
As Jesus is spending time praying, Simon and some others find Jesus to let him know that everyone is looking for him. Jesus responds by saying they should go to the next village and preach there. He continues to preach and cast out demons throughout Galilee.
Jesus’ Need for Prayer
Jesus prayed to stay connected to God and God’s will. He’s been traveling and doing miracles. His need for solitude and rest reminds us that Jesus wasn’t doing these things on his own strength. Instead, his “authority, strength, and power come from God alone” (David E. Garland).
A lot has been said about the fact Jesus got up early, while it was still dark, and went to find a place to pray. These words have often been used to condemn people who don’t get up early to pray. For years, I felt immense guilt for doing my extended reading and prayer time at night.
One day a professor told my class that he does his time of devotions in the evening before bed. He said that he was at his sharpest and most alert then. What mattered wasn’t when he got away for solitude, but the fact he did it.
The Demands of Ministry
Jesus’ time of prayer was interrupted when Simon and the others found him. Although the NIV says Simon and his companions went to “look for him,” a better translation of the Greek word katadioko would be “hunt him down.”
This wasn’t a casual search for Jesus on the part of the disciples. They were determined to find him… and quickly! When they do find him, Simon tells Jesus that everyone is looking for him. While it isn’t explicitly stated, it’s fair to assume that more people had gathered to receive miracles from Jesus.
Jesus recommended that they go to the next village to cast out demons and preach. Although he went away to recharge and pray, he knew the need was great. What time he got, though interrupted, surely empowered him for the next leg of his ministry journey.
If Jesus needed time to pray, we certainly need time for prayer and solitude, too! While we can say that we value private devotional time, our actions often tell a different story. There’s too much to do or we find ourselves constantly interrupted.
We can spend all our time doing God’s work and sometimes still miss what God wants us to do. Could Jesus have healed more people during the time he went to pray? Sure. But he knew that his long-term ability to ministry greatly depending on nurturing his connection with his Father.
Take a look at your life this past week. When did you get away to spend time with God? While you may not need to get up earlier for devotional time, you may need to be intentional about making space for solitude and prayer.