Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” Mark 1:35-37
Jesus goes from the high point of baptism and intimacy with the Father, in front of a crowd, to the solitude and desolation of the wilderness. In fact, in this first chapter of Mark we see Jesus encounter solitude twice (vv. 12-13 and 35-39). In a culture unfamiliar with regular times of silence or aloneness, Jesus’ experience of solitude may seem like an experience we want to avoid.
But even in its unfamiliarity there is much we can learn and observe from Jesus in these early ministry moments.
Jesus’ time in silence and solitude has purpose
The Wilderness is difficult and desolate, both geographically and spiritually. Yet Jesus goes there. Intentionally. He doesn’t wander into this time by accident he is sent for preparation. His second time of solitude, when he prays in a solitary place, is preparation on a smaller scale in taking time to pray before he sets out to proclaim the Good News once again. In seeking God in solitude we invite him to prepare us for the next task he has for us, whether that is making breakfast, tending to our family, or sharing the gospel.
Jesus’ time in silence and solitude is supported by his belovedness
Jesus enters solitude, but he is not alone. Before he is sent into the wilderness he experiences an incredible message from the Father: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (v. 11). Jesus faces everything following- the temptation in the wilderness, the calling of the disciples, the first healings, all the way up to Calvary, with the knowledge that he is beloved. And when, in verse 35, he goes out to a solitary place to pray this practice is not coming from a sense of duty but from his status as beloved Son. As we seek times of silence and solitude it is not because we are “supposed to,” but because as beloved children.
Jesus’ time in silence and solitude is not to be feared but imitated
This week, imitate Jesus by trying a practice of solitude and silence.Whether you can spend 5-10 minutes or several hours, take time to be alone with God. Use this time to draw near to Jesus in prayer. Thank him that he is with you in your wilderness, whatever that looks like.
Apprentices of Jesus are marked by being with him, becoming like him, and doing as he did. Try this solitude practice.
By Jessica Rust