Rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he went to a desolate place and prayed.
I’m not a morning person.
I want to be a morning person, really, I do.
It’s just so darn hard to get out of bed.
I used to be anti-snooze, but now I’d say I’m a snooze aficionado.
But a few times a week, I manage to get myself out of bed before the sunrise.
And honestly, there is something kind of magical about that time.
As the horizon gets lighter and lighter.
As the sky changes colors as it brightens.
It’s peaceful and calm and holy.
Even though I’m tired and often wish I were still in bed, it’s still a holy place.
So it’s no wonder that when the Gospel authors recorded Jesus praying, they almost always noted the time of day – that it was early, very early, as Mark says today,
There is something that happens early, before our day really gets going,
before things ramp up.
That’s when Jesus prayed.
I notice they don’t say he prayed at the end of the day,
Or in the middle of the day.
And though I’m sure that Jesus prayed more than once a day,
It’s interesting that if the time was noted, it was the morning.
I think it’s because of this same thing I’ve experienced before the sun rises.
So calm and peaceful.
There aren’t kids awake.
The neighbors haven’t started working in the yard.
No one is calling or emailing.
You haven’t had time to regret things or worry about things to come.
Very early, while it was still dark.
Also, in Mark’s gospel, notice how Jesus goes to a desolate place to pray.
In the dark, in the early morning, to a desolate place.
The Greek word used here is erēmos
And it means a place without people, solitary, or deserted.
I like to think of the modern version of this prayer as being in a place without distractions.
How often are we really in solitude?
There’s always a way to connect with someone else right at our fingertips.
And we use it.
All the time.
So often the first thing I do in the morning is pick up my phone.
(which is why he is Jesus and I’m not, obviously)
But what might happen if this is how we do it?
If we got up and prayed first?
If we got up, before the sun, and went to a place by ourselves and prayed first?
So here’s what I’m thinking…
Prayer can be overwhelming.
We don’t know what to say or how to do it.
So if that’s the thing holding you back,
I’d suggest to think about it like a conversation.
Ask for God to be with you in your day.
Tell God about the things that are worrying you.
Lift up the names of the people in your life that are struggling.
There’s no “right” way to pray. I promise.
But if that’s too much for you, if it feels overwhelming,
(even though I promise that it’s not)
try the Lord’s Prayer.
Or, if you’re Lutheran like me, Luther wrote a morning prayer that can be just lovely:
Whatever you pray, I’d like to challenge you to try praying this week.
Get up early. Before the sun.
And have the first thing you say be a prayer.
It’s just one week.
You can do it.