Matthew 4:23-25; Mark 1:35-39; Luke 4:42-44
“Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.” – Mark 1:35 NLT
News about Jesus was spreading fast. It had even reached as far north as Syria. Hundreds, if not thousands of people were making their way to the region of Galilee in search of this man who could heal diseases and cast out demons. Matthew tells us that “large crowds followed him wherever he went” (Matthew 4:25 NLT). His days were filled with teaching, preaching and healing. Again, Matthew tells us that Jesus was “teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom” (Matthew 4:23 NLT). But in spite of His growing popularity among the people and the seeming success of His ministry, Jesus started His day with a time of solitary prayer, talking with His Father in heaven.
We will see this pattern take place often as we read through the Gospels. This was not an isolated event, but an ongoing habit that Jesus had developed over time. It could very well have started early in His childhood, but we know that throughout the days of His earthly ministry, prayer was vital to all that He did. Jesus walked in unity and unison with His Father. He did what only what God the Father told Him to do. He said only what He was told to say by the Father. He obediently did His Father’s will because He always knew what it was His Father wanted Him to do. Because they talked regularly. They communed and communicated often. But mornings seemed to be His preferred time for getting alone with God. Before the hustle and bustle of His day began, and the pressures of ministry overwhelmed Him, Jesus sought out His Father.
It would be appalling to think how much of our ministry is done without prayer. Far too frequently, we jump into our day without having spent a single second with God. We simply assume we are doing His will, but we haven’t taken the time to ask Him. Jesus seemed to receive His marching orders from one source: His Father. Like any other minister, Jesus was getting pressures from all sides. His disciples wanted Him to teach and preach more, so the numbers of His followers would increase. The people wanted Jesus to heal their sicknesses and cast out their demons. Every synagogue in every small town through which He passed wanted Jesus, the rabbi, as their guest speaker. Jesus was getting famous. He was gaining a reputation. And He was under tremendous pressure to perform. But Jesus knew that His strength came from God. He knew that His “To Do List” for each day had to be given to Him by His Father. That is why when the disciples confronted Jesus right after His time of prayer, they said, “Everyone is looking for you!” and Jesus simply replied, “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came.” (Mark 1:38 NLT).
Jesus was all about doing the will of His Father. Which is why He spent time talking to His Father – early and regularly. Jesus was not controlled by the crowd. He was not swayed by seeming success. He would not allow Himself to be pressured by the opinions and advice of His disciples. No, His will was to do the will of the one who had sent Him. And He knew exactly what that will was because He spent time talking to the Source.
Father, it’s easy to get distracted by the miracles that Jesus performed and lose sight of the fact that His days always seemed to begin with prayer. He put a high priority on prayer. And it seems that it was far more about communion with You than getting things from You. Those times of solitude were times of refreshing and fellowship. They were the small moments of time when He could cast aside all the cares and pressures of the day and simply sit with You and enjoy the fellowship He had enjoyed in eternity past. What a reminder of how much I need to spend time with You. But it is so easy to forego fellowship and simply launch into action. Help me learn to come into Your presence and rest, listening, learning, and enjoying fellowship with You. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men