Mark's life and Ministry of Jesus Christ. (Mark 1:35-39)
Even in the busiest life, time must be found for prayer. On one of my filing cabinets I have recorded John Wesley’s words: ‘I have so much to do today that I must spend several hours in prayer before I am able to do
it.’ By looking at the references to prayer in Mark’s gospel, we can see:
The times of prayer Jesus had
In verse 35 we must note He had the desire to pray and the discipline to actually do it. I do not believe it is possible to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and not to have the desire to spend quiet times alone with Him.
The previous day Jesus had spent in worship at Capernaum’s synagogue
where He taught from the Scriptures. He encountered a man with an evil
spirit and, in the public eye, there was a miracle of exorcism and healing.
Going on to a family home for a meal, Jesus also shared His thoughts with
His close disciples. He cured Peter’s sick mother-in-law and ended up
having the whole town at the door bringing every conceivable needy
person to Him for help.
Yet, ‘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’ (1:35). It is
strange how people can get up for an early job, or can get up to go off on
a long holiday journey, but they cannot get up early to pray.
We all know the same difficulties: going to bed early enough, getting a
quiet spot, a willing spirit but a wandering mind, feeling too tired and
making the excuse that ‘God knows I need my sleep’. May I suggest that
if you have the desire you can determine to overcome these things?
Jesus also prayed at other times: before a meal (6:41; 14:22-23), at the
end of a long and arduous day, and after the ministry of the day (6:46).
Jesus’ teaching on prayer
I discovered five examples recorded by Mark and I will just share the
key word of each with you.
Prayer is a battle against the forces of evil (9:29).
The church should make prayer her business (11:17).
We are urged to believe in God and in prayer (11:24) and
the following verse says we must be united in fellowship with Christian brothers and sisters before we pray.
Lastly, Jesus says we are to pray before God and not before men (12:40). Private prayer shows more sacred devotion than public prayer meetings, though both have an important role to play.
The theology of prayer
Notice again in chapter 14, verse 32, Jesus’ desire to pray. See also the
distress it caused Him. He discloses His real feelings to His Father in
heaven (vv. 35-36). He shows His determination to see it through with
God (v.39). It is verse 36 that shows us how prayer works in our lives:
‘Father, everything is possible for You.’ That is worship. ‘Take this cup
from Me,’ is stating what is wanted, but: ‘Yet not what I will, but what you
will,’ is showing a willingness to change mind and will, in order to conform
with what God wants to do. Prayer is not an Aladdin’s lamp to make your
wishes come true. True prayer makes God’s will and your will become one.
Do you need to redefine your priorities? Do you need to change your
lifestyle? Do you need to learn to wrestle as well as nestle? Do you need
to put your private prayer time right and spend less time criticising the
church prayer meeting?
Remember, there will be a 6 o’clock tomorrow morning!
Our Lord will be there, will you?
Discussion guide for ‘the prayer life of Jesus Christ’
Bible reading Mark 1:35-39
1. Why do you think prayer was such a priority for Jesus, 1:35?
2. What is the significance of prayer in relation to Jesus’ choice in
1:38-39? (See also 11:17; 14:32).
What do you learn about prayer from each of the following?
3. Mark 9:29
4. Mark 11:17
5. Mark 11:24
6. Mark 11:25
7. Mark 12:38-40
8. What do these mean to you in your own life?
9. Are there questions for you to pray about or ask help on?