July 1 I Sunday
“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
Jesus was teaching at a synagogue in Capernaum when in the midst of His preaching, a demon-possessed man cried out to Him. Jesus cast the demon out of the man, and after finishing His preaching, went to Peter’s house where He healed Peter’s mother-in-law sick with fever. Word of the miraculous healing of the demon-possessed man travelled quickly. A large crowd gathered outside Peter’s house with many suffering from various diseases. Jesus healed them all late into the night. After a long day of healing, preaching and ministering, He got up in the early hours, while it was still dark, and went off to a solitary place to pray.
Jesus, displaying that He is fully human and fully dependent on His Father, understood the importance of spending time in solitude with His Father. In the Sermon on the Mount, He taught, “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to Your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:6). Time alone with God aligns our agendas with His agenda, and we begin to see things from God’s perspective. Prayer increases our intimacy with Him and our faith is strengthened with every answered prayer.
This, of course, depends on the quality of our quiet time alone with God. It is easy to fall back on surface-level prayers, but God wants us to disclose our deepest thoughts, pains and desires to Him. Though He already knows what is in our hearts, it is in intimate communion with Him that whatever is troubling us can be unearthed and dealt with.
Author and theologian Henri Nouwen writes about the importance of solitude with God. He says, “We enter into solitude first of all to meet with our Lord and to be with Him and Him alone. Only in the context of grace can we face our sin; only in the place of healing do we dare to show our wounds; only with a single-minded attention to Christ can we give up our clinging fears and face our true nature. Solitude is a place where Christ remodels us in His own image and frees us from the victimizing compulsions of the world.”
If we wait for times when we feel like praying, we can be sure other things will crowd our lives and take over. Essential to Christian living is getting off the busy treadmill of life and finding that secret place where we get alone with God. When we allow it to become an automatic built-in rhythm to our lives, we find our great reward is being brought into experience of God Himself.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, nurture in me a discipline to regularly spend time in prayer and solitude so that I may know more deeply the joys of fellowship and intimacy with You. Thank You, Lord.