“In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.” — Mark 1:35 (NRSV)
This is one of my favorite Bible verses about prayer. I love it because it’s a reminder that Jesus went off to be by Himself to pray. It’s an invitation to join Him in a quiet, secluded place, where we can spend focused time with God.
I’ve heard intercessors respond to this verse by feeling like they should get up early or stay up late — the night watch — for intercession. There’s nothing wrong with that, if that’s what you feel called to do. The only problems I’ve seen with this is when people deprive themselves of sleep and are exhausted all day, or when it becomes something they do by rote, or even worse, by feeling a sense of obligation or guilt.
I have sometimes been woken in the middle of the night and felt the urge to pray. And I do pray late at night because that’s when I work, and I pray for people as I work. But ideally the Spirit should lead us in all things intercession, whether we pray during the nighttime or on a busy sidewalk at midday.
What I take away more from this Bible verse is the idea of spending intentionally quiet time with God. That doesn’t mean all of our prayer life happens in a quiet place. More often, we are praying in the midst of the busyness of life. But I learn from this verse that spending quiet time with God is a necessary part of our prayer life and spiritual well being.
And I’ve just learned something new about this verse. In addition to discovering how to live by watching how Jesus lives, what can we learn about Jesus Himself from reflecting on Mark 1:35? Let’s look at what Jesus is doing here — getting up early, while it’s still really night, and going to a quiet place to pray. We get the sense of how focused He is on His connection with Father God. How talking with God is so important to Him. How that relationship is dynamic and active and doesn’t sleep.
Watching how Jesus prays brings such assurance to our heart. After all, He came here to reconnect us with Father God and bring us into that dynamic and active relationship. When we see how intentional Jesus is about that relationship, we know He is the one who can reconnect us fully with God, and that’s a task that He never ceases. It’s important to Him.
We are also reminded here that God doesn’t sleep, that He is always focused on His kids. We are told this in Psalm 121, but here we actually see it, right before our eyes. Jesus shows us how God is awake and attentive, no matter the time of day or night.
And we see how focused Jesus is on prayer. This tells us how important it is to align our prayer life with Jesus’ presence. That our prayers come from sitting in His presence and being attuned to His heart. He is already communicating with our heavenly Father on our behalf (Romans 8:34), and we know He desires that God’s will be done (Matthew 6:10; 26:39). We know that our prayers should come from abiding in Jesus (John 15:7).
When we see how Jesus prays and lives in this verse in Mark, we realize He’s the one we need to align our prayers with — not only our prayers, but also our prayer life. How? He shows us right here in Mark 1:35. By intentionally spending quiet time with Him, joining Him in that sequestered place, and aligning ourselves with God. Because Jesus is our living Lord, He not only teaches and shows us how to pray; He also sits right down and prays with us, letting us sense His heart for our communication with God, if we let Him. How amazing is that! Let’s not miss that opportunity to intentionally focus our heart on His presence whenever we pray.
Lord Jesus, thank You for inviting us to join with You in our prayer life. Thank You for coming to be with us, so we can be fully reconciled to God in every aspect of our heart and our being and our relationship with Him. Thank You for showing us how vital it is to spend intentional time alone with You, giving You our heart in prayer. And thank You for the assurance that our heavenly Father is always with us, always focused on us, in every minute of the day and night. We love You, Lord Jesus. Amen
Copyright © 2021 by Janet Eriksson
Janet Eriksson is an intercessor, writer, and teacher in Dahlonega, Georgia. She loves conversation with friends, front porch swings, sweet tea, and spending time on lakes and rivers. The author of nine books and editor of many more, Janet blogs and teaches at Adventures with God. She enjoys volunteering with Kerri Johnson Ministries. Janet received her M. Div. from Asbury Theological Seminary.