Showing the state of our nation in the light of God’s Holy Word


By Shaun Willcock, Bible Based Ministries, South Africa

“And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, He went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed” (Mark 1:35)

Is not the Lord Jesus Christ our great Example? Are we not to seek to pattern our lives after His? Then where are those who seek, however feebly, to emulate Him in His praying?

Our Lord loved to pray to His heavenly Father. And in the passage quoted above, we find Him rising very early – “a great while before day” – to converse with His Father in prayer.

Let us meditate on this portion of Scripture for a while; and draw out its lessons. They are lessons that far too many of God’s children are failing to heed.

Firstly, note the words, “And in the morning.” Our Lord went to prayer early, before He did anything else. He began the day in prayer. Oh, what a rebuke this is to many Christians! There is no time like the morning for praying to our Father. The night has passed; a new day, full of unknown promise and unknown trials, is ahead; all is quiet and peaceful; the time is perfect for private communion with God. The fact that your eyes opened this morning was entirely due to the goodness and mercy of the Lord; “For in Him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28); “He giveth to all life, and breath” (Acts 17:25). Did you rise and acknowledge Him? And then consider this Scripture: “Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow… For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that” (Jas. 4:13-15). When you awoke, you had no idea what the day would hold; for this, only God knows. You no doubt had your plans; but did you makes these plans through prayer, subjecting them to the Lord’s sovereign will? “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths” (Prov. 3:5,6).

In the stillness of early morning, the believer is able to pray without interruption or interference. It is, as I have said, the perfect time for prayer. But from the conversations of many believers, it becomes quite evident that they do not spend their first waking moments in prayer to God. They will quite cheerfully speak of how they lie in bed till the very last minute, before leaping out and rushing to get ready for the work (or play) of the day. In this, they do not follow the example of their Lord.

David prayed: “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up” (Psa. 5:3); and, “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee” (Psa. 63:1). This should be the resolution of every believer.

Secondly, we must take note of the words in our text, “rising up a great while before day“. It is most important to note these words; for the excuse is often made, that one is so busy, there is little or no time to pray. If you have justified your prayerlessness with that excuse, how you should hide your head in shame! For look at the life of our Lord: in the verses immediately preceding Mark 1:35, we read that “at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto Him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils. And all the city was gathered together at the door” (Mark 1:32,33). The Lord Jesus was very, very busy! The Gospel accounts reveal that His was a life of incessant toil. Large crowds of people were demanding his attention, even after the sun had gone down; and even during the night itself, there were those who came to converse with Him (Jn. 3:1,2). The Saviour knew what it was to be weary. And the crowds, He knew, would be back, early in the morning, seeking Him. But did He reason thus: “I am too busy to pray? No; but what did He do? He simply rose up a great while before day, to pray!

It is a matter of priorities. Sleep is important. It is necessary and beneficial. It is vital to get adequate rest for the body. But prayer is essential, too. And on those occasions when it is necessary to do so, the child of God must discipline himself to rise earlier than usual, to commune with God.

It is all very well to be busy; it is wonderful if one is busy in the things of the Lord; but if one does not acknowledge the Lord in all one’s ways, seeking His direction, then all one’s work is to no avail. Jesus was engaged in the work He had been sent by the Father to do; and yet even He needed to earnestly pray to His Father. Is the disciple above His Lord?

Finally, consider the portion of the verse which says, “He went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.”

There is a time for prayer with other believers; but there is a time, as well, for private prayer. The child of God must daily withdraw from his fellows, and enter the presence of God alone. “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly” (Matt. 6:6). It is essential that every Christian seeks out a solitary place – a “closet” – where he can commune with the Father in secret. There, with none but God to hear and see, he cannot seek to impress with pious gestures and high-sounding phrases (Matt. 6:5,7). There, he is alone with God. It is a solemn, a sacred time. There, he can pour out his heart to his Father, freely and without airs or graces. Those who make it a daily practice to go to God in private prayer, and who jealously guard that sacred time, will testify to its blessedness. In the stillness and solitude of the “closet,” the Christian meets with his God.

It is not always easy. It is not always easy to find a solitary place; it is not always easy to rise up early, withdraw from others, and pray. But the fact that it is not always easy, does not remove the obligation! True prayer involves sacrifice and discipline. How often Christians say something like, “You’re in my prayers,” and yet by their words and lifestyle it is quite evident that their prayers are haphazard, irregular, occasional. Prayer is NOT merely requesting the Lord, in a few brief minutes, to “bless,” or “protect,” or “guide.” Prayer is to be earnest, and thorough, and specific.

Dear Christian, if you have been neglecting this all-important matter, I exhort you to repent before God, and to settle on a place, and a time, every day, to pray to God. In this, as in all things, follow the example of the Lord Jesus Christ. You will experience the blessedness of obedience to your Lord.