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Summary: In Mark 1 Jesus gives us a critical lesson on the timing, manner and necessity of prayer. In it, He shows us the: Preparation by Prayer (Mark 1:35) 2) Expectations through Prayer (Mark 1:36-37), 3) Actions from Prayer (Mark 1:38-39)

In the ongoing roller coaster called Blackberry, sources familiar with the company announced this week that BlackBerry board hopes to run a “fast” auction process that could result in a sale of the company by November. Analysts have noted problems with product releases, lackluster marketing, poor cross-platform products, and few apps. It seems like Blackberry failed to consider some of the wider issues in their practices. (http://www.nationalpost.com/search/index.html?q=blackberry)

For Jesus’ disciples in Mark 1, they failed to consider some of the wider issues in their ministry. There were some pressures before them that overtook their perspective. After a busy sabbath of worship and ministry in the synagogue, at a time when others might seek rest and relaxation, Jesus sought His Father in private prayer (35). The earliness of the hour and the pains taken to secure a quiet place for uninterrupted prayer left a lasting impression on the disciples. Simon and the others seem to have thoroughly disapproved of this ‘unrealistic’ strategy in withdrawing from the bustle and opportunity of Capernaum to the silence of a lonely spot (37). They must have been still more puzzled when Jesus saw, in this heightened local interest roused by his healing work, the signal to move on, and to preach in other villages (38). This, he explains, was in fulfillment of his mission, which now became a general preaching and healing mission of a traveling nature, based on the synagogues of Galilee (Cole, R. A. (1989). Mark: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 2, pp. 117–118). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.).

Do you find yourself at a time in your life where you are so busy that the last reasonable thing is to withdraw in prayer?With summer ending and fall in full swing, plans, activities, work and other responsibilities seem to be a mountain before us. It is at this critical juncture that prayer is a necessity. It must occur as the basis of plans, the method of preparation and the continual check of mission. We often find ourselves overwhelmed and unfocused because we have failed to pray. Prayer should not be a matter of personal convenience but of self-discipline and sacrifice. Does this explain why so much of collective ministry can be so ineffective? (MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.)

In Mark 1 Jesus gives us a critical lesson on the timing, manner and necessity of prayer. In it, He shows us the: Preparation by Prayer (Mark 1:35) 2) Expectations through Prayer (Mark 1:36-37), 3) Actions from Prayer (Mark 1:38-39)

1) Preparation by Prayer (Mark 1:35)

Mark 1:35 [35]And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed

One of the key considerations of scripture is a determination if a passage is descriptive or prescriptive. Is it describing something or telling us we should be doing something specific. The questions we would naturally have from this passage would be a consideration if morning is the best time to pray? Do we have to be alone to pray? Do we need to be in a desolate place to pray? To answer these questions we should consider how and why Jesus prayed.

In verse 35, after a long and strenuous day Jesus, who was and is not only divine but also human, felt the need of prayer. “Rising very early in the morning while it was still dark ∕night,” as it was just starting to get light (Luke 4:42). This refers to the last watch of the night, sometime between 3:00 and 6:00 a.m. (Bob Utley. The Gospel According to Peter: Mark and I & II Peter. Copyright ©2001 by Bible Lessons International, Marshall, Texas)

It is not wrong to rest, but there are times when physical comforts and rest will have to take a back seat to the practice of prayer.

Jesus departed∕left the house and went out to a desolate ∕ lonely ∕deserted ∕solitary place, a quiet retreat. The Greek word for this “place” (erēmos) is the same word for the wilderness where John preached (1:4) and where Jesus was tempted (1:12). In Mark the word does not connote a desert waste but, reflecting Israel’s sojourn in the wilderness following the Exodus, a place of repentance, restoration, and fellowship with God. “Israel’s wanderings under the leadership of Moses were a march under the guidance of the Spirit of God (Isa 63:11), and the Spirit gave the people rest (Isa 63:14) (Edwards, J. R. (2002). The Gospel according to Mark (p. 65). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos.).

Following being centered on the Word, the Holy Spirit delivers rest to His people. Effective prayer contains the elements of repentance, restoration and fellowship with God.

That Jesus “prayed” in our text “is always used of prayer to God.” This fact is instructive in that it plainly indicates that we are not to pray to the saints, such as the apostles or Mary. Scripture never exhorts or gives us an example to pray to anyone but God. The simple statement in English that “he prayed” is in the imperfect tense in the Greek, which suggests prolonged prayer (Brooks, J. A. (1991). Mark (Vol. 23, p. 53). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.)

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