Praying in the Dark –
The morning after a tremendous, exhilarating and perhaps draining experience of healing and teaching, Jesus rose while it was still dark, went out to a deserted place and prayed. Walk with me as we look at the key words in the verse: First, it is morning. Jesus was an early riser! He went to bed after teaching and healing, but now, he was preparing for what would come next. It is morning “While it was still very dark.” The darkness of night, as it transitions into dawn and sunrise has several stages: Pitch black where the only light is the moon and stars; Blue black, purple black, orange and red, finally day light! Why is Jesus praying in the dark? Why did he want to get out of the house? Perhaps he spoke out loud while praying and was afraid he would wake up others. Maybe the snoring, tossing and turning of the others in the house distracted him. It is not only dark, but a “Deserted place.” A “Deserted place” would have few distractions. Jesus did not have to go far to find a “Deserted place.” How many of us would choose a dark, deserted place to pray? Maybe, Jesus went outside of town. Maybe he went to a forest, a mountain, down to the Sea of Galilee. Maybe he went to the outskirts of town and sat on a log. What did Jesus pray about?
Probably some combination of the following: praise, confession, thanks, intercession and supplications. Intercessory prayer is the prayer where we ask God for direction and assistance. I believe that a major portion of the night time prayer of Jesus was intercessory, because when Peter and the others find him, Jesus tells them that it is time to move on to the next town. I believe Jesus was praying for direction, and the answer he received was it is time to move on. The easiest thing in the world is to stay put. Particularly when things are comfortable and going well. It is easy to settle into a groove and just continue to do the same old things. The same thing, every week, in your retirement. The same thing, every week in your marriage. The same thing, every week, every day in your single life. The same thing, every week in your personal time and space. The same thing, every week at work, at recreation. Our recent China Trip has caused me to reconsider how I exercise. In China, I saw people who looked older than me doing one arm pushups, chin-ups, kicking above the head to the opposite side of the body, and I decided I need to step up my game! Monday, I signed up to start swimming again! Visiting China was an inspiration to me to do more! One of the lessons I hope we can take away from this story in the Bible, is that Jesus was not content to stay stuck in a rut. Even a nice “Rut” is still a “Rut.” Jesus was always “Pushing the envelope” and moving in different, deeper, directions. One of the things I enjoy most about the type of ministry that I am engaged in is that every day, every week, every year, I am praying to the Lord for guidance and new directions. And, I never want to stop pushing:
The trip to China was exceptional, but I am not willing to stop there! Next Wednesday, at 6 PM I will lead a overview of next year’s trip to Israel! Can’t stay stuck on China, it is time to move on to Israel! Sometimes, a new direction is not necessarily brilliant. For example: last Saturday morning, I walked door to door with men of the church to invite people to come to church… Guess what? We had many more children in our Sunday School than normal! That means the door to door worked!
So, we learn from this story that Jesus prayed in the dark. Prayed in a deserted place, and found inspiration to move on! Ask yourself, when do I pray? How do I pray? Are my prayers quick little prayers, or do I ever pray long, knockdown, drag out prayers? My encouragement to you is that every now and then, you get up in the dark and pray in a deserted place. If you are uncomfortable praying in the alley, or in the middle of a dark, deserted city street, Go to the country, to a rural area! My fear in driving to a rural area to pray would be that the police might follow me and mess with me. (nothing like being a black man in America!)
A deserted place can be another room in your house. This morning, I prayed today in the dark, solitude of my living room. My hope and prayer for you today is that you follow the lead of Jesus. Get up early, go to a quiet place and pray to the Lord. Listen for the voice of the Lord. At some point you will hear the Lord tell you, “Get up out of your rut! Do something interesting! Don’t get stuck in doing the same thing every day, in the same way! Move on and find something stimulating and interesting to do! Jesus kept moving until his path took him to Jerusalem. On one dark Friday, they nailed him to a cross, so your sins and my sins would be taken away!
Never hesitate to pray, and every now and then, steal away in the darkness of the morning and pray in a place without distractions – a deserted place!
Mark 1: 35 In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.
Questions for Reflection:
- When, where and how do you pray?
- Do you think you would feel comfortable praying in a dark and deserted place?
- Why do you think Jesus chose to leave the house and pray in a dark and deserted place?
Prayer: Lord, make me comfortable in praying to you. Lord, help me to feel at ease at any time and any place with you. Bless me now with your inspiration. Bless me now with your direction. Bless me now with your peace that surpasses all understanding. Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior I pray. Amen.
Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III
Photo by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III
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