Praying in the dark
So many problems to solve. So many people clamoring for your attention. Do you ever feel overwhelmed?
One evening throngs of the needy came seeking Jesus’s help. Out of respect for the Sabbath, they waited till the sun set, but as soon as darkness fell they “brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door.” Mark 1:32, 33
And, this was no small town. Capernaum was a sizable city in Jesus’s day. Did the crowd at the door number in the hundreds? The thousands?
Jesus loved people
His heart was full of compassion for every man, woman, boy and girl. Yet, anyone who works in medicine, education or counseling understands how draining it can be to work with people and solve their problems. This was exhausting work. Jesus healed, taught, and engaged in spiritual battle by casting out demons. Mark 1:34
How did he handle the pressure? “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
Jesus spent time by himself, but this wasn’t solitary confinement — it was solitary refinement. Away from the crowds in the presence of the Father, Jesus found strength to carry out his mission.
He went off to pray “while it was still dark.” If Jesus could get up early for prayer after such a busy day, surely we can find time in our schedules for conversation with God. By the time the sun rose in the morning, Jesus already had prepared himself for the spiritual battles the day would bring.
A friend who has lived for years in a crowded urban neighborhood told me, “I feel like a dark spiritual cloud hovers over this place.” His family is a light for Jesus “while it is still dark” in their city.
Christians in Eastern Europe served the Lord long before the Berlin Wall came down. They risked their necks to worship and spread the gospel “while it was still dark,” with the shadow of communism looming over their lands.
Today, there are spiritual bright spots in some of the darkest places on earth. Small groups of Christians gather by night for home Bible studies in Uzbekistan, knowing they could be imprisoned if discovered. A student in a state university quietly witnesses to her classmates and friends in the dorm. A missions committee in a rural church prays for the success of a new church soon to be planted in the capital city of a foreign land.
We need to pray while it’s still dark
If we wait till the sunlight comes — till all the sin has been dispelled, all the problems have been solved, and everything looks bright, we’ll never act at all. While it’s still dark — while evil hovers over us and the needs seem overwhelming — that’s the time to pray, plan and persevere in God’s work.
Jesus’ quiet time didn’t last long. Soon Peter and some other disciples found him and exclaimed, “Everyone is looking for you!” Mark 1:37
Jesus moved on to other towns and villages where more of the sick and the curious needed his instruction and his healing touch.
He was ready for the challenge. He had prayed while it was still dark.
Paul Leavens is the Minister Lindsay Christian Church. Visit the church website at www.lindsaychristianchurch.org.