Taking Time to Pray

Mark 1: 29-39
1Sm 3:1-10,19-20 / Ps 40

Rising very early before dawn, Jesus went off to a deserted place to pray.
(Mark 1:35)

We always rush, we have no time,
So much in mind of work to do;
Lest we forget things more sublime,
What if in turn, God forgets you?

As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. So He went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them. That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but He would not let the demons speak because they knew who He was. Rising very early before dawn, Jesus went off to a deserted place to pray. Simon and his companions went to look for Him, and when they found Him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” So He traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. (Mark 1:29-39)

Reflection

The writing style of St. Mark in his Gospel narration gives the reader the impression that our Lord’s life was fast-paced and packed full of activities – he was healing the sick, exorcising demons, preaching, and rebuking His critics. As soon as He had organized His core group, He immediately launched His ministry (even on a Sabbath), curing a demoniac in the synagogue, healing Peter’s mother-in-law, then attending to the problems of the whole town who had massed at Peter’s door — well into the night. But as much as He showed His love and concern for His people, Jesus never missed the opportunity to pause and find the time and place to pray to the Father.

Our Lord shows us what it means to be a man for others – one who is sensitive to society’s ills, gives his time and energy generously and lovingly to promote love, peace and justice, restore health and order – but at the same time also finds time and space for the Source of these blessings. Jesus displayed this balance in His life not only for the benefit of His followers, but especially for us today, who place too much importance in achieving the most in life in the soonest time possible. In the hyper-speed technology of our age, how easily we lose sight of the necessity of spending quality time with the Maker of time.

If our Lord Jesus saw it fit to ‘recharge His batteries’ in meditation with the Father, how much more for us, who sorely lack the spirit and enthusiasm that our Lord possessed? Just as our body needs the nourishment of food, so does our soul, which needs to come before God “as an empty pitcher before a full fountain.”

At times it is for lack of prayers that we become sick or even stricken with a deadly disease. Being possessed by an evil spirit is certainly the result of a lack of spiritual guidance and nurturing. Quite often, people only find time to pray intensely to God when they or their loved ones are already in the throes of a serious ailment. If only they had made daily prayers as much an important part of their schedule as taking care of their bodily needs, they would have had a more balanced, healthy life.

I must confess to being guilty of what I am preaching about. My wife and I have long maintained a regular schedule of prayers and daily masses. But when the Christmas holidays took us on a two-week vacation to Manila and Laguna, the flurry of events and activities disrupted our schedule of masses and prayers, and soon after we got back home from the vacation, we both came down sick and disoriented. Lying in bed, weak and aching, I could only thank God that our ailments did not happen while we were away on the trip, and this brief “confinement” at home was an opportunity to meditate on His graces in my life, and to plan how to serve Him better in this new year. Being away from God too long can be dangerous to your health.

Father, thank You for all the blessings that You have given to me and my family, and our community. Remind us always to give more time to listen to Your bidding in our prayer and meditation, so that all the things that we do in the days to come may be pleasing to You. Amen.

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