“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he got up, went out, and made his way to a deserted place; and there he was praying.”
— Mark 1:35 (CSB – Read the chapter)
How do you recharge? How do you build yourself back up when you’ve hit the point of exhaustion? Different people fuel up in different ways. Extroverts, for example, need to get around people. After a long, stressful day of work, they need to go home, change clothes, and go to some crowded, public space where they can be the life of the party. Introverts like me, on the other hand, need isolation. After a Sunday morning of being “on,” I have to spend a few hours being completely “off” before I’m good for much else. Those are just two ways to recharge. Not every approach works for every person, and finding your source takes some trial and error. What we see here is Jesus demonstrating a way to recharge that is not only universal, but it’s also more efficient and effective than anything else. I’m talking about prayer.
Jesus had just had a long day. It was a long day that was the beginning of a long season with little time for rest. Word of his performance in the Capernaum synagogue had spread like wildfire. No one had said or done these kinds of things before. Yes, there had been great teachers. And, yes, there had been healers and exorcists. And, yes, there had rarely been guys who did both. But something about Jesus was different and everybody could sense it.
Jesus’ goal wasn’t to draw a crowd, but the things He said and did made a crowd inevitable. While they were in Capernaum, the group came and stayed at Peter’s house. It’s not clear whether this is where they had been staying, or perhaps if they had come here quietly to avoid the crowds so they could rest. Either way, when they arrived, they learned that Peter’s mother-in-law was sick with a fever. (By the way, yes, this means Peter was married. There’s a good chance others of the disciples were married too.)
The context suggests this wasn’t just a garden-variety fever, but rather something entirely more serious. No matter how serious, though, there was not a physical malady that posed any challenge to Jesus. He healed her completely; so completely that she was able to jump right up and play host to the visitors.
Well, again, word about Jesus’ healings had begun to spread and this only added fuel to the fire. By nightfall not only did everyone in town know what Jesus had done for Peter’s mother-in-law, they had all brought anyone who was sick with anything to the house for Jesus to do the same for them. Jesus wasn’t often one to turn away someone in need and this was no exception to that trend.
Needless to say, by the time Jesus sent away the last awed and grateful family, He was exhausted. I suspect there’s a good chance the only thing Jesus wanted to do was sleep. And we know He could sleep. He could sleep through a wild thunderstorm on a boat that was so bad the boat was taking in water. He needed to recharge emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually.
The question is: which of those is most important?
Bear with me here because I can guess what you suspect I’ll say the answer is. But answering that the way we think we’re supposed to answer it, and the way we actually answer it in practice are two different things.
We generally behave as if the emotional, mental, or physical matters most. Right? When you’re exhausted spiritually, the first thing you turn to is probably sleep or some other way of mentally checking out for a while, not prayer. Maybe I’m wrong and happily so, but I doubt it. I’d be lying if I said I lean consistently toward the latter instead of the former.
Yet what do we find Jesus doing here? “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he got up, went out, and made his way to a deserted place; and there he was praying.”
Jesus was mind-numbingly exhausted, and yet the first thing He did was to get off by Himself in a quiet place and pray. Okay, but that’s Jesus. Of course He would do something like that. I’m not like that.
Listen: You may not be Jesus—okay, let’s just own it: you’re not Jesus—but in His full humanity (which we see wonderfully on display here), His needs were the same as yours. He needed sleep and the restoration of His…everything. But He understood what mattered most. If His spirit wasn’t whole, very few of the other things He was doing were possible. And so He prayed. Stay with me here: If Jesus needed this, unless you think you’re better than Jesus somehow, you need it too.
No matter what Jesus did, or how much He exerted Himself, the one thing He always turned to and made time for was prayer. If we want to work in the same vein as Jesus, we’ve got to do the same. There’s simply no way around it. If we don’t turn regularly and faithfully to prayer, we aren’t going to have what we need to navigate the journey of life.
Let me ask again, then: How do you recharge? When you’re finally so exhausted you can hardly think straight, what are the things you do to weather the storms blowing up around you? If prayer is not at the top of the list, you’ve got a problem. Find a way and a time to get off by yourself and spend some time in prayer every single day. That will keep you tapped into the power that is not accessible by any other means. And again: If Jesus needed it, there’s no reasonable way to argue that you don’t. Get to work…or rather…prayer.