(Remember that we’re looking at Mark 1:35-39 which you can find here)
Last time I wrote about ways that we can enhance and deepen our prayer life in order to do less and be more. I want to commend all of those things to you, but I also want to undermine what I wrote by saying that I don’t think Jesus wants us to think of prayer as something we do occasionally, or even as something that we plan to do more of! He wants us to do less and be more.
What I mean is that for Jesus prayer was as natural as breathing. We breathe in and out to provide oxygen for our bodies to survive and thrive. But we rarely spend much time thinking about it – it is natural and instinctive. And prayer can be for us like breathing – natural and instinctive.It is not something we plan to do at specific times, it is something that happens all of the time.
When something good happens, our response is to offer a quick prayer of joy. When something upsets us we offer a prayer of anguish.When someone else is in difficulty we offer a prayer of intercession. That instinctiveness comes with time and as our relationship with our heavenly Father deepens. This can start with those times when we give him our full attention, but then it develops as our relationship with God deepens.
It’s almost a self-fulfilling prophecy: the more we pray the more we become aware of God’s interest in all aspects of our life. And the more we become aware of his interest, the more we want to pray. But as well as discovering more about prayer in this passage, we can also see that Jesus avoided the temptation to be busy
Did you notice how the disciples sent out a search party for Jesus when they discovered his empty bed? “Everyone is looking for you!” they told him.
I don’t think it’s because everyone was concerned that he may have been abducted. It’s because everyone wanted more of him. Remember that the previous day he had demonstrated God’s power over the forces of evil,and he had demonstrated God’s power to heal those who were sick.
At this stage of his ministry he was rapidly growing in popularity. People were drawn to him because what he did amazed them. They were drawn to him because he oozed God. They were drawn to him because of what he might do for them. People were flocking to him. And after he had disappeared to pray everyone was looking for him because they wanted more.
The disciples were getting caught up in the excitement of the events around them. They were loving the crowds and the Jesusmania that was developing. It feels like the disciples were trying to act as his agents:there was going to be another big crowd today so they needed to make sure Jesus was going to turn up and put on a good show.
And it would have been easy for Jesus to have been caught up in that too. One of the temptations he faced in the wilderness was the temptation to put his own popularity and power before God’s. It’s a very real temptation. Isn’t it?
Be blessed, be a blessing