“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed” – Mark 1:35
At dawn, long before the sun rose, Jesus got up. Leaving the house, he went into a deserted place. And there he prayed.
This verse is sandwiched between the sentences that are full of activities and actions. Jesus – healing the sick, casting out demons, responding to the demands of the disciples, traveling throughout Galilee, preaching from synagogue to synagogue.
What a very busy and demanding life Jesus must have had! I wonder what time he went to bed the night before? It was at sunset when Jesus and his disciples gathered at the door of Simon and Andrew’s house. It must have been very late when He finished ministering to the people.
But Jesus saw the importance of getting up early in the morning. He knew that in the center of breathless activities – there must be rest; in the center of preaching, silence; in the midst of movement, pause; and in the middle of action, contemplation and solitude.
In the Gospels, you will find many instances where Christ withdrew from the crowd, right in the middle of being engaged in many activities. He would often go to a lonely place to rest, not only physically, but to meet with His Father.
He also commanded His disciples to do the same, to go to a place where they could get away from the crowd to rest physically and also to commune with the Father, to renew their strength and find refreshment, in order to be ready again to minister to people.
I believe that the power of Jesus’ ministry is hidden in that lonely place, that solitary place, where He went to pray, long before dawn, long before the day breaks.
In the lonely place, Jesus found the courage to follow the Father’s will and not His own; to speak God’s word and not His own; to do God’s work and not His own. He said: “ I can do nothing by myself…my aim is to do not my will, but the will of Him who sent me.”
Jesus said: “The words I say to you, I do not speak as from myself.” “It is the Father living in me who is doing the work.”
In the lonely place, Jesus enters intimacy with the Father. His ministry started in the lonely place, in the wilderness, when He was alone being tempted by the devil. His ministry was fulfilled in the lonely place, in the Garden of Gethsemane.
There, He demonstrated His triumph because He sought the Father’s presence, His will and His strength to finish the task that was given Him.
What a challenge and encouragement to each of us to do the same. Is there a lonely place in our lives? A lonely space where we seek God’s face to obey His will?
Do not forsake the lonely place — for you are never alone in that place — God is there waiting for you, faithfully longing to be with you, to love you and to delight in you, to heal your wounds and pains, to strengthen and comfort you, to prepare you for the task that you have been given.
We are God’s beloved. Oh, how He longs for us to come to Him. To enjoy His presence. We are His joy. His inheritance. He loves so much. May His love be the magnet that would draw us to Him. Come and enter into God’s lonely place for you.
Lina Padilla, MEANS Board Chair