3 January 2018

Hi, it’s Mick, and welcome to today’s Podcast reflection from Mark’s gospel. If you are back at work today, I hope it is going well; if you are still on holiday, enjoy the rest – unless you have small children in which case you will be experiencing little or no rest until that wonderful moment when they finally go to bed! Our Bible reading is Mark 1:35-45 – keep listening to hear it after the worship song.

REFLECTION

Our Podcasts in this first week in January focus on our own personal walk with Jesus. On Monday, Jesus’ words that ‘the time has come – the Kingdom is here’; yesterday, his invitation to ‘follow me’. Today, a bible truth on keeping close to God this year. One verse in particular for us to reflect on today

(v35) Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

This is how Jesus connected with his Father. Picture the scene; Jesus had been preaching all the previous day and healing people in the evening – I would call that a busy day! Then he gets up early, before dawn, finds a quiet spot with no one else around and prays. This verse both fascinates and challenges me.

As Christians we believe that Jesus is God – fully human and fully divine but he gets up early to pray – why? Three observations to reflect on. Firstly, Jesus saw prayer as vital; not just helpful or important but vital – so should we! Secondly, he found a quiet place away from the demands of the world and even his friends – so should we! Thirdly, let’s not miss this, he chose early in the morning to pray – so should we!

I have heard church leaders, preachers and commentators over the years modify this Jesus model of prayer in Mark 1:35. Comments like – this is not necessarily how we should all pray; or that prayer is so helpful but we shouldn’t get too intense about it. Or, it’s virtually impossible to find a quiet place in our busy and demanding lives today; or even, well not everyone is a morning person!

If we think about it, really think about it, we know deep down that this a a 100% cop-out! As disciples of Jesus our aim is to live lives which reflect his values, his vision and his lifestyle. We know it will be costly but the benefits are amazing as we draw closer to God. We know it’s the only way to live, the trouble is, it’s just hard to do … but it’s not impossible!

Every weekday at STC we meet at 9am for prayers. Thirty minutes when staff team and church family worship and pray; I love 9am prayers as it really sets me up for the day. But I also know that I need some ‘one to one’ time with Jesus in prayer if my relationship with him is to develop. Here’s a confession, I don’t find this easy – it’s something I really have to work on constantly because as an extrovert I just love being around others to pray.

How to begin? Find the time slot and ‘solitary place’ that fits for you and give it a go. You might be thinking that you just don’t have the time to do this, especially if you have a young family or busy job. Why not begin by using those few minutes in the shower at the beginning of the day, focus on God first not just on the day before you. Start by giving thanks then invite the Lord into your day. Jesus and me time is so vital if we are to set the right course for the day.

Of course we need all kinds of prayers and ways of praying, however Mark 1:35 is still a challenge. If Jesus prayed this way we should at least give it a go – maybe not a dawn start but as early as we can! It might just be the key to connecting closely with Jesus this year.

PRAYER

Lord Jesus, thank you for showing us how to pray. Show me how to pray as you prayed that I might love as you loved. Help me to press on with prayer this year. Amen.

READING: MARK 1:35-45

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: ‘Everyone is looking for you!’

Jesus replied, ‘Let us go somewhere else – to the nearby villages – so that I can preach there also. That is why I have come.’ So he travelled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.

A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, ‘If you are willing, you can make me clean.’

Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.

Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: ‘See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.’ Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.