Updated: Oct 22, 2018
Mark 1:35 (NASB95)
In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.
After bidding them farewell, He left for the mountain to pray.
15 But the news about Him was spreading even farther, and large crowds were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. 16 But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.
It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.
And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, “Who do the people say that I am?”
22 Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away. 23 After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone.
Alone. We tend not to like that word. It conjures up thoughts of loneliness and emptiness. It is the state of those rejected by others. Single parents, widows, and orphans feel alone. One of the few effective disciplinary tools in prisons is to be forced to be alone in solitary confinement. We were made for relationship, with God and with others. We don’t typically like to be alone. It can make us feel scared, rejected, isolated, and small. Yet, Jesus regularly sought time to be just that: alone. In fact, it was so important to Him that He sent away those who desperately wanted His help in order to do so.
A while back, I spent time with a group of Jr. High and High School students at a retreat in the mountains. And while we focused quite a bit on being with each other, we also spent hours and hours choosing to be alone. This was not because we were “peopled-out” or because we didn’t want to be together, because we really did. It was because we wanted to follow Christ’s example. If, in His human limitations, Christ needed time alone, how much more do we need that same thing?
Our lives are filled with distraction. We are connected 24/7 to chirping cell phones and droning televisions. We have kids that are constantly needing help with homework or dinner or attendance at their sports games and practices. While these things are important, helpful and entertaining, they can also be overwhelming. We were intentional at the retreat to eliminate such distractions. We got away from family and school obligations. We collected cell phones and even watches to eliminate the distraction of a schedule and time. It is amazing how much anxiety doing this brought initially to some, but they began to see how it took such a burden off and freed them to focus on each other and God.
Jesus was intentional about getting alone and away from distraction. He would go away while it was still dark and few were awake. He would take time to travel to a wilderness or mountainside where people were less likely to be, and even there, the disciples would often find Him and interrupt (I can definitely relate to that!). Yet, He didn’t stop trying to get away. He knew how important it was to spend focused time talking with the Father. Even now, I don’t know if I fully realize its importance. The lack of practice in my life would show that I don’t.
In our busy, distracted lives, may we be intentional about making time to get away to be alone with the Father who is waiting to be with us and hear from us.