Prayer Perceives Purpose
“In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there. Simon and his companions set out in search of him, and when they found him they said, 'Everybody is looking for you'. He answered, 'Let us go elsewhere, to the neighboring country towns, so that I can preach there too, because that is why I came'.”
In this first chapter of his Gospel, Mark portrays Jesus as a man who turned his back on a throng of people who were desperately seeking his healing touch. How can this be? Why would Jesus do such a thing?
The previous day, Mark introduces Jesus’ first public ministry with Jesus astounding the synagogue with the authority of his teaching, then delivering a man possessed by an unclean spirit. Jesus ends that day by healing Simon’s mother-in-law, and then by ministering to the horde of people who showed up at her door, all in need of healing and deliverance. It is this throng of needy who were seeking him out the next morning.
If you had the power to heal every person in a desperate crowd that was clamoring for your saving touch, would you turn your back on them and leave town? Jesus did. Why would he do such a thing?
Clearly the answer lies in those pre-dawn hours spent in prayer. Jesus told us that he only speaks the words the Father gives him, and he only does what the Father tells him to do. Surely, it was in prayer that Jesus encountered his Purpose, and it was prayer the framed his every action in the Will of the Father.
If Jesus based his actions on his feelings, he would have stayed and healed that crowd. But his action, his purpose, was not determined by the tyranny of the moment. His purpose was not to appease, but to proclaim the Truth.
In retrospect, healing was secondary. It was a sign attesting to the truth of his Word, the Good News, that the Kingdom of God has dawned upon us. Prayer clarified his Purpose. Healing and deliverance were the result of living out the Kingdom of God he proclaimed.
Yes, out of love and mercy, he healed many desperate souls, but he left many still wanting. His primary purpose was to usher in the Kingdom of God -to bring this Truth to all the people of Galilee- since all who embrace its unstoppable unfolding, will end up in the bosom of the Father. For, no matter what the obstacle, the Kingdom of God will bring triumphant deliverance to those who believe.
Surely, as he turned his back on those precious needy ones, Jesus was conflicted, even distraught. But the power of his prayer -of his connectedness to the Father- kept him faithful to his Purpose, all the way to Calvary.Holy Spirit, keep me faithful to my prayer time. Steep me in your Word. Open my ears to the Voice of my Father. Make me faithful as my Lord Jesus was faithful. I want to accomplish the purpose for which you have created me. May my every action be framed in your Truth, no matter how I feel, even Lord, if I do not yet understand.