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. A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, saying to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.
In today’s gospel lesson, we encounter Jesus avoiding the crowds by beginning his day before others are awake and going to a deserted place to pray. It is a prayer practice from which we can all take note and learn. Before he began an intense day of teaching, preaching, and healing, he went to God to ground himself in prayer. He went off by himself to be at one with his Father, preparing for the day that would come. There are two other accounts in the Gospel of Mark of Jesus withdrawing to pray alone (6:46 and 14:32). He models in his own life the daily rhythm of work, rest, and prayer. I, too, get up very early, while it is still dark outside, in order to “be still and know that God is God.” My intention is to ground myself in prayer before I begin my day to exercise my ministry at the Cathedral — with all that entails.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu used to say that the more difficult the day coupled with time pressures, he just needed to allocate more time to pray! During this season of Lent, we invite you to journey with us with these daily meditations as well as the daily Morning Prayer services and other study and worship opportunities. You can learn more and sign up at: www.cathedral.org/lent.
Jan Naylor Cope+
A Prayer for Quiet Confidence: O God of peace, who has taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be our strength: By the might of your Spirit, lift us, we pray to your presence, where we may be still and know that you are God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer, page 832)