Summary: This message highlights the importance of prayer and a daily quiet time with the Lord.
In The Prayer Closet With Jesus
Text: Mark 1:35-39
Introduction: Is it just me, or is life getting busier? You know they said with the advent of the computer that people would have less and less to do, and that we would have much more free time than previous generations. Clearly that isn’t true. Our technological day has not freed up the hours for recreation, but has simply enabled us to cram more into a day than previous generations could ever have thought possible. Life in 21st century Britain is fast paced and hectic. It can be stressful and demanding, and with the responsibilities of work, family, community and church bearing down upon us it may be that we have little time for a meaningful and useful spiritual life.
People in every era have had their own responsibilities. In one sense life, without the technologies we enjoy, may have been a bit slower, but as we read through Mark’s gospel we get the impression that the Lord Jesus was always on the go. Those recurrent terms Mark uses such as “straightway”, “forthwith” and “immediately” all intimate a busy life. Anyone who is truly serving God will find that life is busy. But in our opening text Jesus shows us, by example, how to handle a busy day.
We left Him in verse 34, tending to the sick and the suffering. That Sabbath day had been a particularly eventful day. It began with the Lord preaching in the synagogue, confronting a demoniac, then retiring to Peter’s house where he healed his mother-in-law, before receiving multitudes of the needy in the evening, probably late into the night. But a late night did not stand in the way of an early morning, for Jesus knew that the secret to a successful day is time spent alone with God. By His example we see the necessity of having and guarding a quiet time.
I read this week of Andrew Bonar, the great Scottish preacher of the 19th century, who had his own pressures to bear. But Bonar, renowned as a man of prayer, had three rules by which he governed his life:
Not to speak to any man before speaking to Jesus.
Not to do anything with his hands until he had been on his knees.
Not to read the papers until he had read his Bible.
Those are three great principles to start the day by. And it would seem that Bonar developed these rules by observing the behaviour of the Lord Jesus. Before He spoke with anyone, He first spoke with His Father. And before He touched anyone with His hands, He had first spent time on His knees, and though there were no papers as such to be read, we can be sure as a preacher of the gospel the Lord Jesus spent time meditating upon the Word of God. Come with me now into the prayer closet with Jesus, and see how the Lord began His day.
I. His Priority
A. We are living in the age of celebrity.
1. It seems that many are in a rush for fame, and certainly we celebrate the famous, often for nothing more than being famous, but I have to say that sometimes I think about those who are in the limelight of society and I do not envy them one bit.
a. The royals, the politicians, the TV and movie stars, the sportsmen and women, and the Z list celebs can have it as far as I’m concerned.
2. Yes they have material wealth and enjoy aspects of life that is far beyond the reach of the average person, but at what price?
3. Who wants to be on the end of camera lenses each day, who wants to live behind locked gates, and drawn curtain, to have photographers, journalists and autograph hunters stalking their every move? Not me. I am glad that I have a private life, and no one is snapping photos of me from afar.
4. Now, we left Jesus in verse 34 of our text and we see that in ancient times He had achieved a certain degree of celebrity.
a. The first year of His ministry was the year of obscurity, but the second is the year of popularity.
b. People wanted to be around Jesus. They were pressing for His time and attention, and with such a successful Sabbath day behind him, the Lord knew that Sunday was likely to bring more of the same.
c. Now, you and I in that scenario might say to ourselves; “I have busy day ahead tomorrow, I need to get a good night’s sleep.”
d. But notice that, “in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out…” (vs 35a)
e. For Jesus that quiet time, somewhere around 4-6am in the morning was a priority.