The Prayer Life of Jesus: Mark 1:35

The Prayer Life of Jesus
Mark 1:35

Tom Miller is a driver’s education instructor. In his car, I presume, is an extra steering wheel and an extra brake. If a student is nervous - as I'm sure most of them are - when they drive the first time, he tells them, “Don’t worry. I’ll help you steer and brake.” A driver’s ed instructor can take over the car at any time.

Prayer helps remind us that God is in control of our lives, if we will let Him. When we allow God to take control, He will manage our lives much more efficiently than we ever could.

As we study the prayer life of Jesus in this lesson, I want to remind you that God can strengthen us as we struggle with keeping our priorities in order and as we - especially our young people - struggle with grasping God’s purpose for their lives.

We begin in Mark 1…

Mark only records three references to Jesus praying. This is the first one. The second is in Mark 6:46, after He feeds the 5,000 and just before He calms the first of two storms. The third is the famous prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, recorded in 14:32-39.

The context of Mark 1:35 begins back in verse 21. Jesus has called a few of His disciples, specifically Peter, Andrew, James, and John (1:16-20). These all go into Capernaum, where Jesus does a considerable amount of His miracles and teaching, and on the Sabbath day, He heals a man of demon possession. In a very tightly constructed chronology, in verse 29, Mark says that Jesus and His disciples left the synagogue and went into the house of Peter and Andrew, where Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law (1:29-32).

Notice at verse 32 that “evening came.” So the healings recorded in verses 32-34 all happened that very night. Then, the next morning (ver. 35 - our text), Jesus arose early in the morning, while it was still dark, and He left the house, went to a secluded place, and was praying there. We do not know what Jesus was praying for; His words are not recorded, again. But, He has been busy. He’s shown His power over Satan, through the exorcism. He’s shown His power over disease by healing Peter’s mother-in-law and various other people.

Now, in verse 36, the disciples (they are not called “apostles” yet), come find Jesus and inform Him that many people in Capernaum are looking for Him. Who wouldn’t, with Him healing like He does! But, notice in verse 38 that Jesus tells them He needs to move on because He needs to keep preaching. He was sent for that purpose - to preach repent for the kingdom of God was soon to be established (the content of His message is found in 1:15). So, Jesus left Capernaum and preached in the area of Galilee, while He was casting out demons.

Mark has a special interest in the exorcisms of Jesus. He uses the word “demons” 13 times and he refers to “unclean spirits” (a synonym for demons) another 7 times. Notice in verse 39 that “casting out demons” is closely associated with “preaching.”

In chapter 3, we have one of the specific occasions of exorcism in the ministry of Jesus, and in Matthew’s account, recorded in 12:22-29, Jesus says, “If I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” In Luke’s account (11:20), Jesus uses the expression “finger of God.” But in both cases, Jesus associates exorcisms closely with the establishment of the church, the kingdom. In fact, if you’ll look at Mark’s account of the appointment of the Twelve, 3:14-15, he writes that Jesus sent the apostles out to “preach” (ver. 14) and “to cast out the demons” (ver. 15). Now, from the other accounts, we know that Jesus gave the apostles miraculous power in lots of different areas, but Mark specifically mentions the power to cast out demons. The sending out of the Twelve, what we call the “Limited Commission,” is found in Mark 6:7-13, and again, Mark says that Jesus sent them out in pairs and gave them “authority over the unclean spirits” (ver. 7). The healing miracles they performed are listed in verse 13. But still, right after Mark writes that they preached that men should repent (ver. 12), Mark writes that they were casting out demons.

God allowed demons to leave the chains of darkness where they were / are reserved for judgment during the ministry of Jesus and the apostles specifically because exorcisms were closely connected to the establishment of the kingdom. We can debate whether or not God allows demon possession today, but the fact is that what people call demon possession today does not fit the examples of demon-possession in the NT.

I want to suggest two things for which Jesus prayed, but I really want to focus on how we can and should pray for these things in our lives and in the lives of our spouse and our friends…

1. Might Jesus have prayed for His priorities? What was Jesus’ priorities? Was His priority to heal the sick? Well, in fact - no. Verse 38 (Mark 1) relates that Jesus came to earth to preach. It would have been easy for Him to get caught up in the hub-bub and popularity of healing people who were sick! We know from John’s account that after He fed the 5,000, the people wanted to take Him by force and make Him king! (6:14-15) Now, someone who was ruled by the flesh could have easily have accepted that popularity and run with it!

Knowing that the idea in the minds of the first-century Jews about the nature of the Messiah was an earthly king, wouldn’t it have been great to have had a king who could: 1) heal everyone’s illnesses and 2) feed everyone miraculously! To have that kind of power would make you unconquerable! For those who are familiar with the movie, Marvel’s superhero Shang Chi and the Ten Rings dealt with a man who - through the power of those ten rings - could not be defeated. That, in essence, is what the first-century Jews were wanting out of Jesus. But that was not His priority.

We are judged based on what the world expects out of us. Parents are judged based on how their children behave and perform in school and how they succeed in life. Moms can be judged based on whether they are equally active in church, in school, in the community, and in their neighborhood. They feel judged if their house is not what they think other people expect. Men think their yards are being judged by passers-by, if it is not what they think other people expect. Think of the Progressive Car Insurance commercial with Dr. Rick, where the man is trying to get home owners especially to stop acting like their parents and in one commercial, the homeowner says, “Don’t look at the shrubs.” And the other guy says, “No one is looking at the shrubs!”

A woman in the work force probably feels like she is being judged if the work place does not take priority in her life. Again, men are not pulled different directions like women are, but we might be judged if we act like our home and family is more important than our jobs. Women feel like if they aren’t the perfect mom, wife, mother, daughter, friend, or neighbor, a woman can feel like she’s letting everyone down!

If we are faithful to Christ, then it stands to reason that we each are doing our best. It’s just hard to balance our lives and keep our priorities in order. When I first became a full-time minister once Rachel and I married, I knew we would have people in our home a lot. Sometimes, Rachel and I can go months if I am having an on-going Bible study with someone, where we have them in our home almost every single week. So early on, I told Rachel - don’t try to keep the house looking immaculate. It would put too much pressure on her and having an immaculate house might put pressure on our visitors to think that that’s what we expect them to do. In other words, having a house with that “lived-in-look,” I think, makes people feel more comfortable and more at-home. That’s my opinion.

Most women have a life outside of keeping the house and they would like to live it.

So, let’s talk about praying for our priorities - men, let’s talk about praying for our wife’s priorities. Because your wife - as you know - will often put others before herself. And that will drain her physically, emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually. Here are some suggestions:

1. Pray that you put God first.
2. If you tend to be a workaholic, or if you are a female, pray that you will take time for yourself. Men, pray that your wife will take time for herself. It will not make her self-centered. It will help her to be more centered on spiritual things. As we talked last month about praying for rest.
3. Pray that you can balance your time with your children. One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given when our girls were young - and it was given by a fellow missionary on the mission field who, himself had two girls - was to take my girls out on a Saturday for 3-4 hours and just let Rachel have time by herself. I have wonderful memories of spending my own time with Jewell and Ana and that helped build a foundation of our relationship that we enjoy right now. But I told Rachel when I left with the girls - DO NOT DO HOUSEWORK while we’re gone! Pray your wife can balance her time with your children.
4. Pray that you will take time for yourself. When I was in preacher training, my professor, brother Wendell Winkler told us preachers not to be busy the whole day every day. We will wear ourselves out if we do not take time for ourselves. Too many people do spend too much time on themselves, but I doubt most of us have that issue.
5. Pray that your wife, in particular, can balance housekeeping with the other responsibilities she feels.
6. Pray that you will use your time wisely.
7. Pray that you will understand your priorities.

Notice these verses:

Ecclesiastes 3:1 - “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven.”

Matthew 6:33 - “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Psalm 127:1 - “Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain.”

Proverbs 31:27 - “She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.”

Psalm 37:31 - “The law of his God is in his heart; His steps do not slip.”

2. Might Jesus have prayed about His purpose? Jesus said, “For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak” (John 12:49). Jesus came to do the will of the Father. That was His ultimate purpose and I suspect that Jesus prayed on a regular basis to keep His proper purpose in front of Him at all times.

Now, what about us? We all have our own abilities and talents that have been given to us by God. And the only way we will feel fulfilled is if we acknowledge those abilities and use them to fulfill our purpose. If you haven’t grasped your purpose, you are going to feel unrest and frustration, and that’s going to affect your relationships with people around you.

Yes, what we want to be and what we know we need to be isn’t always what we are. We want to be self-controlled, and at peace in our minds and hearts, and we want to be pleasant all the time, and full of good humor and attractive (I’m not talking about physically exactly) to everyone around us. I’m sure we have this image in our minds of what we ought to be and do and we try to fulfill that image and sometimes we make it, and sometimes we don’t.

We need to pray that we will be what God created us to be. And that we can and will change as we need to change. We know we need to change sometimes and we know it’s going to be hard. But we need to pray that God will work in our lives and help us to change so we can fulfill that purpose for which God has created us.

When it comes to fulfilling our purpose:
1. Pray that you will understand what God’s purpose is in your life - at each stage of life.
2. Pray that you will recognize what contributions you, yourself, have to make to God, to the church, to your family, to society.
3. Pray that you can be what God wants you to be.
4. Pray that you will live a life that can be one worthy of sacrifice of Christ.
5. Pray that you will be the spouse you need to be for your wife / husband.
6. Pray that you can use your abilities in service to others.
7. Pray that you can fulfill God’s will in your life.

Let’s listen to the word of God relative to our purpose in life:

Ephesians 1:11-12 - “also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.”

Ephesians 1:15-19 - “For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might.”

2 Timothy 1:9 - “has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity.”

Take home message: Pray God will help you have the right priorities in life and that you will fulfill the purpose God has designed you to fulfill.


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