St. Mark's Gospel provides us insight into Jesus' Heroic Minute: "Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed." (Mk 1:35)
What do we learn when we examine the verses which surround this account of Jesus rising early and praying?
- We see that Jesus led a busy life. On the evening before (St. Mark makes a point in stressing "after sunset" Mk 1:32), we read how Jesus cured many people of illnesses and set free those who were possessed by demons. It had been a long night for the Lord. In spite of that, he still made a point to rise before dawn to spend time alone, praying. We live in a busy world - most of us can attest to late nights trying to fit in all the tasks that we are responsible for. Yet, Jesus' example demonstrates that time with God does need to come first.
- A lot of people needed Jesus. In the following two verses (Mk 1:36-37), we read how "Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, 'Everyone is looking for you.'" I chuckled when I read this passage and thought of all the times when my quiet morning prayer time has been interrupted by my husband or my children. I wonder how hard it was for Jesus to break away from this peaceful time alone with his Father and attend to the needs of the people around him. I am confident that he didn't snap at them or moan and groan about never having anytime to himself. He didn't need to - by rising early enough he had already had the prayer time that he needed.
- Jesus' prayer strengthened him to begin the work which lay ahead. Verse 38 tells us that Jesus responds to his followers by taking the initiative and saying "Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come." Jesus did not merely react to the demands Simon and company - instead he took charge, knowing clearly what his mission was and how he was to fulfill it for the upcoming day. Likewise, when we begin our day in prayer, we too can confidently begin the work which the Lord has given to us for the day ahead.
How is the challenge going for you? Share your thoughts, struggles, victories and insights in the comments below...