Mark 1:29-39 Jesus left the synagogue at Capernaum, and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon's mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, "Everyone is searching for you." He answered, "Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do." And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.
Reflection Punctuating our lives with prayer is not unique to the Episcopal Church (Check out the Daily Offices in the Book of Common Prayer!). Our Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and monastic sisters and brothers all teach the value of ordering our lives around regular periods of prayer. Still, many of us are more comfortable with one mega dose of prayer each week. But is it enough to sustain us? Is one whopping Sunday of prayer enough to give us the courage to wholeheartedly pray with Jesus saying, “Not my will but your will be done?”
This is hard and I believe this is the heart of Mark’s gospel text. “In the morning, while it was still very dark, (Jesus) got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.” From the fervid frenzy of the night before, everything is quiet. Jesus goes to a deserted place to confirm his direction, strength and healing power in relationship with God who, little more than forty days earlier annointed him “My son, the beloved.” All that Jesus says and all that Jesus does is a realization of his relationship in God. That is why Jesus goes off to pray alone, to keep conscious his connection to the source of all that flows through him. I believe Jesus understood that his healings and exorcisms, his parables and preaching were outward and visible signs of the power and presence of God with him. And so Jesus never stopped returning to God, the source and sustainance of his life and ministry. Right down to the wire Jesus submitted, “Not my will but your will be done.”
As daughters and sons of God I believe we too must acknowledge our complete and utter dependence on God, God who is closer to us than our own breath, God who is the source and sustainance of all that we say and all that we do God whose will is not other than our own true will.
It takes courage and faith that God really is with us to drop the arms that keep other people and God at a safe distance. It takes courage and faith that God really is with us to take church outside these doors, connect with strangers, lift them up and invite them into the spiritual consciousness of our interconnected, interdependent relationships with one another and God. It takes courage and faith that God really is with us to lay down our personal preferences and pray, “Not my will but your will be done.”
One mega dose of praying “Your will be done,” is not sufficient for me to sustain my courage and faith in the One, Holy and Living God with me as I navigate the moment to moment aches and agony, drama and disappointment, intrigue and injustice that constantly accost me. And so I find myself slipping away from the crowd, sometimes early in the morning when it is still dark, to pray. I find my self closing my office door and taking a few minutes to pray. I find myself sitting in my car praying before the next meeting because one mega dose of prayer on Sunday is not enough to sustain me.
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