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On your Mark

Alone in 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, NIV)

Picture the scene. On Saturday, the Sabbath, He ministered in the Capernaum synagogue and cast out a demon. He then healed Peter’s mother-in-law in her home. Next, from sundown into the evening hours, He healed various diseases in those gathered in the street. It had been an exhausting day.

But, Jesus did not sleep in the next day! Before the crack of dawn, before anyone else in the house had arisen, He slipped off quietly to find a solitary place to pray.

I can understand His restlessness in rising early. When I am on the verge of plunging into something major, I do not feel like sleeping. Jesus knew that the years of quietness and isolation in Nazareth were forever behind Him. The events of the previous day in preaching, exorcism and healing had launched His public mission.

From now on His days would fill with people who had needs. So, He would teach, heal, cast out demons; but He would also be questioned, accused and misunderstood.

Whom did He have to turn to for respite from the pressing demands? The Father, of course!

Do you remember a time when you had been away from home and longed for the fellowship of family? Then imagine how Jesus felt.

He had left His home in heaven. But, in the quiet of the dark and dawning morning hours He speaks the language of heaven. He continues in the fellowship of the Father and Holy Spirit. He draws strength and assurance through prayer.

If Jesus found it necessary to spend time alone in prayer, then how much more so do we?

Certainly, our schedules are no more exhausting or full than His. He shows us that if we are to draw divine strength for our lives we are better off spending an hour or two in prayer than sleep. We often think the reverse — that we need sleep rather than prayer. Why not follow the example of Jesus and cut out some sleeping time for prayer?

One of my seminary professors, Harold Lindsell, said this about prayer:

God cannot do some things unless we work. He stores the hills with marble, but He has never built a cathedral. He fills the mountains with iron ore, but He never makes a needle or a jet airplane. He leaves that to us.

If then, God has left many things dependent on man’s thinking and working, why should He not leave some things dependent upon man’s praying? He has done so. “Ask and you shall receive.” And there are some things God will not give us unless we ask.

We cannot suppose that God will do for us without prayer what He has promised to do for us only through prayer.

Jesus knew He could not function effectively unless He prayed. Neither can we.  Prayer must become our everyday habit. If you have not already done so, find an alone time each day to adore and praise God, unpack your own burdens, and intercede for others. You will be amazed at how near you will draw to Him, and how the Lord responds to your prayers!


GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

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