Summary: This message talks about the differences in the prayer of the Pharisee and the Publican.
Text: “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” (Mark 1:35).
Was there a time in your life when you got up early while it was still dark, left the house to find a quiet secluded place where only you and God would be present? I pray before I leave the house and then I pray en-route to where I am going. I have prayed for safety before leaving for vacation or even a short trip.
I have a real comfortable feeling when it is just the Lord and I. The peace that comes over me gives me assurance that all is well, that I need not fear, that I need not worry, because I am in good hands. It is the kind of feeling that is felt by a child who cuddles up in the arms of a parent.
Jesus was always in contact with His Father through prayer. As the Scripture says, He liked to be alone with Almighty God. Luke tells us: “Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God” (6:12).
Jesus prayed before any event in His life. He prayed before making any decisions. He prayed for the people of His day and especially for the people who followed Him.
He prayed all night before choosing those men who would be close to Him and would be considered the inner circle. “When morning came, He called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles” (Luke 6:13).
Jesus thought it was of utmost importance to contact the Father before making His final decision in picking the right twelve men who would carry on His work. It is interesting to note that He just didn’t shoot up a quick prayer, but He prayed all night.
Have you ever prayed all night? I have never prayed that long, but I wonder what marvelous revelation would come about if I did. Would I ever be the same?
Would I see that which I had never seen before? Would my experience bring about such a change that my friends would notice something spectacularly or radically different about me?
What would I talk to God about? I have never talked to God for more than a few minutes at any one time. I do talk to Him numerous times throughout the day. Are my short prayers or conversations with my Father not as good or not as important as long ones?
I believe God is more interested in content than length. He is interested in our truthfulness and sincerity. In all honesty, God is interested in listening to us regardless of how long or short our conversation may be.
He listens to us if we are praying within a group of people just as He listens when it is one-on-one. He is present with us in the church setting just as He is present with us in the wide open spaces of the countryside. The point is He is always present with us because He lives within our heart in the Person of the Holy Spirit.
There were people in Jesus’ day who thought they were better than other people. We have the same situation today. There are people this day who are overly confident as far as their goodness goes. In other words, they tend to look down upon others because they consider themselves superior and others inferior.
These egotistical people fail to realize that we are all God’s creation and He didn’t make one of us more valuable than the other. We were all made in His image. We are all sinners saved by grace. With Him we can do all things, but without Him we can do nothing. We cannot save ourselves. We all belong to Him just as earthly children belong to their earthly father.
In our Scripture reading this morning, Jesus talks about two men who prayed. Both men went to the temple to pray. In Jesus day, people who lived near the temple often went there to pray. I don’t think their prayers were heard any more or any sooner and I don’t think their prayers were any more accepted by God just because they prayed in the temple, but it so happens that the temple was the center of worship.
We may live near our church today, but we don’t go there on a daily basis to pray. In fact, our church doors are locked, so we wouldn’t be able to enter even if we wanted to. It is a shame this has to be the way, but some people have a tendency to steal and destroy without giving consideration to the meaning of the building or its’ contents. Just because the building is called a church does not prevent them from such sinful acts.