Jesus had a habit of rising early to spend time alone with His Father. Mark shows us in this passage that not only did Jesus pray, but His prayers gave Him guidance and direction in His ministry. God can guide your steps each day if you will seek Him early, before the demands and adventures of your daily life begin.
The Text (Mark 1:35-39)
35 Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. 36 And Simon and those who were with Him searched for Him. 37 When they found Him, they said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.”
38 But He said to them, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.”
39 And He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons.
The Greek verb tense for “prayed” gives the idea of continual prayer, meaning that Jesus had a habit of rising early in the morning to pray. He would get alone, in the quiet, to hear from His Father. Jesus certainly had a busy life. There were always places that needed to be taught about the kingdom of God. There were always people who needed to be healed and demons who needed to be cast out. Yet He made private, intimate prayer a top priority. Jesus’ prayer life also seems to have given guidance to His ministry. After this particular prayer time, Jesus headed out in a new direction, leaving Capernaum to preach and heal in other towns and villages throughout the region of Galilee. While in prayer, the Father showed Him what to do and then Jesus did it.
Jesus modeled the prayer life that He expected from His followers. To be a disciple is to be a person committed to private, daily prayer. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught on prayer with such an expectation, repeatedly saying, “And when you pray…” before explaining how Christians should pray (Matthew 6:5-11). I would suggest taking a moment to read this passage in Matthew to see what Jesus had to say about prayer. He is the expert on the subject! The best indicator of a person’s spiritual health is the quality of their prayer life. Do you find yourself excited to come to God in prayer each morning and/or evening? Do you ever feel the need to pray and then follow through and pray? Are you honest and really seeking God’s presence and will for your life when you pray? God promises that we will find Him when we seek Him with all our heart. How do we seek Him, if not in prayer? If you have not yet established a routine time and place for private Bible reading and prayer (the two go together naturally, with the Word cleaning our hearts and directing our prayers), I pray that you can establish a devotional habit this summer. The reward is fellowship with Jesus, who will direct your days and fill your heart with His joy and peace and love. May the Lord bless you and keep you today.