Reading: “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
To whom can this impressive picture of high devotion properly apply but to Him whose life was one continuous act of prayer; whose vital and all-pervading atmosphere was communion with God? Jesus literally “walked with God.” As man, He was deeply conscious of the spiritual necessities of man; and as the God-man mediator, He felt the need of looking up to the Strong One for strength, to the Wise One for wisdom, to the Loving One for sympathy—in a word, to His Father in heaven for the constant replenishing of His daily need for the great work His Father had given Him to do.
Wise will it be for us to consider Jesus touching the article of prayer. If He, the sinless One, the mighty One felt deeply and momentarily the need of drawing from above by the breath of prayer those supplies needful for the accomplishment of His work, how much more have we need that prayer should precede, accompany, and follow every step we take; that communion with God should prompt, aid, and sanctify every act of our lives. In imitation of our Lord we should often rise up a great while before day, and depart into a solitary place and give ourselves to prayer.
Consider Jesus in this matter, and form your prayerful life upon the model of His. He always approached God in prayer as His Father, it was filial: ”Holy Father,” “My Father.” Equally is this your privilege. God stands to you in the close, the endeared relation of a father by adopting grace. Oh, feel that, when you pour out your sinful heart, your sorrowful heart, your broken heart before Him, you are pouring it all into a father’s ear, a father’s bosom.
The prayer of Jesus was real communication with God. So let yours be, O my soul! Rest not content with the form of prayer, the duty of prayer, the act of prayer. Be not satisfied unless conscious of the listening ear of God, the responding heart of Jesus, the vital breathing of the Spirit. Oh, let your communion with heaven be a blessed reality. Do not leave the mercy-seat without some evidence that you have been in solemn, holy, precious audience with the Invisible One. Oh, whatever your sin, or sorrow, or need may be, rise amid the twilight shadows which drape your soul, and give yourself to prayer!
By this example of Jesus, we are taught the necessity and the blessedness of secret prayer: ”He departed into a solitary place.” My soul, enter into your closet and shut the door behind you. You have secret declensions to confess, secret sorrows to unveil, secret wants to present, secret blessings to crave. Take with you the blood of Jesus, and with faith in His Word open all your heart in filial, loving confidence to God. He will open all the treasures of His heart to you. Let nothing keep you from this; business, family, friends must all give place to this if you want soul prosperity. Five minutes alone with Jesus will carry you through five hours of toil and trial.
Taken from Consider Jesus: Thoughts for Daily Duty, Service, and Suffering by Octavius Winslow, 1870 (public domain).