Jesus Study 14 – Prayer and Solitude

And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. And they were astonished at his teaching,for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out,  “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit,convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.

And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.  Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. – Mark 1:21-34

jesus_demons-cropped

Jesus just called His first disciples, and rather than spend days or weeks training them on doctrine, preaching or theology, He asks them to watch and learn from Him as He teaches and heals. Jesus is the Master Teacher, and it would serve us well to learn from Him here – we cannot learn about God, truth, love, or the nature of our condition in a vacuum. Jesus goes directly to the Synagogue to teach, surrounded by the poor, hurting, demon-possessed, and broken. Truth is not divorced from reality, from true need, from everyday pain and disappointment. It does not seem that Jesus’ goal is to make His new disciples scholars in history, philosophy, or doctrine, but rather to wake them up to the desperation of the world around them and show them the ways to love and meet their needs with the Gospel. And I would argue that about us as well. Do you see the needs of those around you? Is your Christianity hypothetical, or does it have hands, feet, words, action?

Again, we see that Jesus’ teaching was not typical – it was extraordinary. He taught with “authority.” As He is teaching, a demon-possessed man stand up and screams at Jesus. The demon recognizes Jesus as the Messiah, the “Holy One of God.” What does this teach us? That it is possible to know about Jesus and His divinity and not love Jesus, to not be saved from sin and death. Much like the Pharisees or demons, we too can have only a head knowledge of Jesus without knowing Him, His grace or His love and forgiveness. Beware of becoming comfortable with your Messiah, too confident in your knowledge, without being fully dependent on Him. Pray for desperation.

Look at the ease with which Jesus casts out this demon. With a word Jesus dismisses it. I don’t know if you have ever experienced the demonic, but let me assure you that it is frightening. Let this verse remind and comfort you of the absolute control God has, and let your fear melt in the presence of your King and Savior. Jesus is our Comforter, our Shield, our very strong Tower. In His name we take refuge. Jesus does not have to convince, coax, or force the demon to obey. He speaks and it obeys. The same is true for illnesses. Look at the next verses. He heals Simon’s mother of illness simply by taking her hand. Then He proceeded to stand on his doorstep and heal everyone who came to Him. And is says the “whole city” was at His door.

Solitude

Think about this – how exhausted do you think Jesus is? He has been traveling, walking miles every day, teaching, and now healing everyone in this city. If you could heal every disease and illness, how much sleep do you think you would get? Probably not much. There is so much need in this world that it can often be discouraging, but learn from Jesus here – He does not turn anyone away, He does not say “Enough!”

This kind of love is exhausting, isn’t it? Jesus continues to bless, heal and teach late into the night. How does He do this? Where does He get the patience, love, peace, joy and faithfulness to do this? How can He do this? This kind of work is draining, exhausting, and tiring. 

Check out the next verse:

Jesus-Prays alone

“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

Henry Knowen wrote a book entitled “Out of Solitude.” I highly recommend it to you. It speaks to this verse on Jesus praying, recharging in the solitary place. Notice how much action is surrounding Jesus’ life – preaching, casting out demons, healing the “whole city,” moving on to the next town and starting all over again…. In the middle of this, Jesus wakes up early in the morning, leaves the house where He is staying and finds a quiet, solitary place where He speaks with His Father.

Knowen writes, “In the center of breathless activities, we hear a restful breathing. Surrounded by hours of moving we find a moment of quiet stillness. In the hart of much involvement there are words of withdrawal. In the midst of action there is contemplation. And after much togetherness there is solitude. The more I read this nearly silent sentence locked in between the loud words of action, the more I have the sense that the secret to Jesus’ ministry is hidden in that lonely place where He went to pray, early in the morning, long before dawn. ”

Jesus, the Son of God, had a habit of removing Himself from the everyday activities, people, pressures and needs of His day by going out to a solitary place and speaking with God. The more I think about this, the more incredible it seems to me! Jesus got tired. Jesus felt drained. Jesus NEEDED to spend time with God. Jesus LONGED to hear His Father’s voice. 

best medicine

What about you? What about me? Do I see my need to spend time in prayer, focusing on God instead of myself? Rather than try to fix all of my problems on my own strength and in my own wisdom, do I look to God to heal, to bless, to remedy, to answer? Prayer has a way of revealing my deepest fears and needs ALONG with my absolute inability to fix myself. But it also allows for God to speak into those fears and needs, filling me up with His Word and His Spirit, sending me back into the world for His Name and glory. Do you spend time with God daily? Do you pray, Christian? Let God’s Word speak to you here, and go find yourself a solitary, quiet place where you can meet with God in prayer.

Life is going to get busy. Every day is full of busyness. Our technologies and habits can deter us from solitude. Loneliness is discouraged in the age of social media, iChat, Video Chat, Skype, texts, cell phones, and “community.” However, having time with God is essential if your words and actions are to be based in truth. Power belongs to the Lord, and if you are not speaking with Him and spending time with Him, how are you going to walk in power, in truth, in fullness of the Spirit? Today will bring new challenges. You will have demands on your time, on your character, on your schedule, on your patience. But you must face all of these things with the patience, power, love, forgiveness, grace and hope that only come from God. So spend time with the Lord today … for your own good and the good of everyone around you. Because, as the next verse shows, life will get busy.  

“And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him,’Everyone is looking for you.’ And he said to them, ‘Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.‘ And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.” – Mark 1:35-38

A_Solitary_Place_by_EphemeralCapture

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