There is nothing in the life of the Lord which can be counted as insignificant or trivial. Everything we read about Him, no matter how small, ought to bring us into a closer relationship with Him. In Mark 1:35-39 the writer once again reveals more of the nature and ministry of the Son of God.
His private prayers
“And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed” (Mark 1:35).
Prayer was a very important part of Jesus’ life. When Jesus wanted to pray, He put some distance, however small, between Himself and His everyday distractions. In the pressure of an incredibly busy life, with people’s expectations of Him mounting to fever pitch, He would frequently and regularly take time to pray. We know from the Gospels that He made time and space for prayer by climbing mountains or by walking the desert. We know that sometimes He got up early to spend time with His heavenly Father. On occasions He would give a whole night to prayer. Always we see Him favouring the lonely places and the quiet times. He taught His disciples that “men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1). He is our best example of diligent communion with God. Though He was wholly God, He was a perfect man too, and knew the value of private prayer. We should recognise that prayer isn’t a method, form or ritual, but rather a way of life.
Jesus was perfectly holy and sinless in every way, “For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens” (Hebrews 7:26), yet He devoted Himself to prayer. How much more are we, who are given to sin and disobedience, to spend time in secret prayer? Jesus’ prayer was not half-hearted or shallow, “Who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared” (Hebrews 5:7), should we not live by His example? In light of the Lord’s prayer ours are weak and powerless in comparison. Like Him we ought to bring all of our requests, supplications and cares before our Heavenly Father, for surely prayerlessness is a sign that Christ’s nature is not manifest in us. When private prayer ceases there is a lack of grace, power, joy and strength in the believer’s life. “Seven days without prayer makes one weak!”
We are called to be watchful in prayer, “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer” (1 Peter 4:7) … “Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is” (Mark 13:33). These verses teach us about the dangers of prayerlessness. This is a true test of our state before God, for prayerlessness is the beginning of spiritual decay that leads to bondage and weakness.
His public preaching
“And Simon and they that were with Him followed after Him. And when they had found Him, they said unto Him, All men seek for Thee. And He said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth. And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils” (Mark 1:36-39).
1 Timothy 1:15 states that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”, but unfortunately there are those who want the salvation He brought and reject His teachings about the way to God. The Son of God came as the Greatest Prophet and Teacher this world had ever known, “The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken” (Deuteronomy 18:15). It is impossible to be a follower of Christ by accepting His sacrificial death on Calvary but reject His word at the same time. He came to preach about how one could get to Heaven, “Jesus came … preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God” (Mark 1:14) … “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19).
His earthly life was given to preaching, teaching, and instructing the lost in the ways of righteousness. How few there are who desire to hear God’s pure word today! All they want is a pep-talk that will make them feel good about themselves. This is a far cry from what the church once was, for she once ministered the saving Gospel to those lost in sin; missionaries and evangelists proclaimed the truth throughout the world, and wherever it was preached revival was the result. There must be a return to the Biblical standard of preaching, “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14), for it was through preaching that the early church “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).
If the Lord took upon Himself the ministry of preaching ought we not do the same? He preached for three years in the markets, by the seaside, in the field and upon mountains. This is one reason why He was sent into this world, and we are sent for exactly the same reason, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:19-20).
Prayer and preaching always go together. If we pray for the lost we must be prepared to go and tell the Good News. What the Lord told Paul applies to us too in some degree, “But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God” (Acts 26:16-18). We ought never be ashamed of prayer or preaching for the Lord lived for both.