Reflection on Mark 1.29-39

In the morning, while it was still very dark, Jesus got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.

Every aspect of the way in which the Church of England goes about its daily life is regulated by Canon Law. Within this body of canons there is a clear instruction that clergy should say the Offices of Morning and Evening Prayer every day of the year. The formality of this instruction may seem excessive to many, but it ensures that all members of the clergy do not forget that a regular pattern of prayer should come before all other demands upon their time. It also reminds them that the saying of the Daily Offices should be a modelling of good practice for those who live within their parishes. As well as inviting others to join them in prayer, clergy are required under Canon B.11 to give public notice that such prayers are being offered by tolling the bell, or by other appropriate means.

Within the gospel narrative, we quickly see how ‘busy’ Jesus’ ministry becomes. His teaching, preaching and healing occupies so much of his time. As he becomes better known these demands are intensified. But, despite all the fame and its attendant pressure to deliver more, Jesus, while it was still very dark … got up and went out … and … prayed. Jesus never allowed the worldly to distract him from spending time in prayer. Rather, we are left in no doubt that these times of prayer gave him the inspiration, the power and the guidance he needed to fulfil his divine mission on earth.

Today we are being challenged to reflect upon our own prayer lives. Do we have a regular pattern of prayer, a pattern that supersedes the mundane demands that stand between us and God? When we face the challenges of daily life, is our first instinct to ask God for his guidance and inspiration, or is it to get the problem sorted in ways that seem ‘best’ to us? Do we actually have any sort of regular pattern of prayer, or is it something we save up for when we go to church for a formal service?

Jesus was in constant conversation with his, and our, Heavenly Father. We often read of him distancing himself from worldly pressure in order that he might spend time in prayer. That is the model we are called to emulate in our daily lives. Unlike the clergy, the majority have no legal responsibility to pray placed upon them, but then it should not be seen as duty, but rather as a joy. No matter what is confronting us in our daily lives, we should feel a sense of comfort and release as we turn to our Father in heaven and enter into prayerful conversation, because his wisdom and his guidance will always be just what we need. 

Let us pray that we might learn the discipline of regular and constant prayer. Let us pray that we might learn to take every aspect of our lives to God in prayer. Let us pray that we might learn to listen for God’s words for us as we journey ever closer to him throughout our earthly lives.