praying in solitude

Today’s Gospel Reading at Mass comes from Mark 1:29-39 and points us to the fact that prayer in solitude ought to be an integral part of our life. For, if our Lord Jesus, who was perfect in every way, made time for it, how much more should we?

    Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them. When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. The whole town was gathered at the door. He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him.

    Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.” He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.” So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.

Indeed, there is an apparent difficulty in finding time to go away and spend silent time in conversation with God. The appearance of this difficulty comes about whenever we prioritize the cares of the world above our life-source, which is the grace of God. Yet, how are we to successfully engage in helping our neighbors or even ourselves unless we first draw upon the grace of Him who said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5)?

So, how is it that Jesus says that we can do nothing outside of Him, yet we see people everyday who do not accept Him as their King and Life-Source and do not spend time in prayer, but seem to be doing many things without Him? It is true, when we draw upon our own strength, natural resources, and self-will it is possible to have a measure of success in this world, but what God is asking us to do is to trust in Him with all of our heart, and on our own intelligence rely not (cf. Proverbs 3:5). He asks us to do this because He created us and, therefore, He knows that we are beings of limited resources and ability. That is, our strength, intelligence, charm, wit, finances, and etcetera, are all limited. We can all reach a point where our natural strength is depleted and we can do nothing else; or we can reach a point where our intelligence will fail us; or a point where our finances are inadequate to satisfy our needs.

In the narrative above Jesus points to that very fact that we all have natural limits, but God does not. With a word or a thought God can cure a sick body, free a possessed person of a demon, make a mute talk, a lame walk, feed thousands with just two loaves and five fish, and do things for us that we could never do for ourselves.

The United States Army has a slogan that says, “Be all you can be”. Essentially, this branch of the US Military offers itself as the means through which a man or woman can reach their full human potential. Self-determinism, self-justification, and killing other human beings aside, the message of Christianity is something much more healthy for the soul. The teaching is this; that the best that we can be as humans is In Christ, for God became one of us so that we might be one with Him. The path to reaching our full potential as humans is to become like the one who became like us. And the best way for us to become one with God is to spend time with Him in one on one prayer, because it is through that conversation that the relationship between God and man moves towards perfect union.

Yes, communal prayer is excellent, but if Jesus spent time with His Father in private conversation, then how much more should we? And what you will find by leaving the cares of the world behind for just a moment to enter into private conversation with God is that you will have received the supernatural grace to do far more things with Him than you would have been able to do on your own.

So try spending more time with God in prayer – just you and Him, or if you have let the practice fall to the side then pick it back up and make it a regular part of your life again.

O Lord God, who never fails to find time for me,
help me to find time for you.
In Jesus’ name I pray.

Scripture texts in this blog are taken from the New American Bible with Revised New Testament and Revised Psalms © 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.