Recently I preached on principles for powerful prayer. One of my points was that prayer is to be characterized by intensity or fervency. Elijah and Daniel both are great examples of men who prayed fervently. Jesus Christ is the best example of fervency in prayer. Though we are only one week into it, I am benefitting from our Sunday School class which is currently studying John 17 and Jesus’ high priestly prayer–which is an example of fervent prayer. That chapter teaches what or who Jesus fervently prayed for.
But one of the best examples of fervent prayer from Jesus’ life is in Mark 1:35 at the beginning of his ministry. “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.”
This passage gives us great insight into the life of Jesus Christ. Christ often spent long periods of time in prayer (Matthew 16:23, Luke 6:12). He often taught about prayer. And he often modeled prayer. We have about two dozen references to Jesus praying in private. Some of these examples show us why he prayed, how he prayed, or what he prayed. But Mark 1:35 shows us when he prayed and where he prayed.
From Jesus’ example in Mark 1:35, I have learned two things. First, fervency in prayer requires concentrated time. Reading the context of this verse, you will find that Jesus had had an exhausting day of ministry previous to this day. And that when the sun rose on this day, his disciples told him, “Everyone is looking for you. What are you doing out here praying?” I learn from this that not only must we devoted some concentrated times to prayer, but we can devote some concentrated times to prayer. If Jesus left us this example, we should follow it.
Time, a lack of it, is one of the chief excuses, we use for not praying fervently. But I have been dogged for years by the words of Pastor Alexander Whyte who said (speaking to pastors), “Brethren, we have plenty of time if we husbanded and hoarded it up aright. We cannot look seriously into one another’s faces and say it is lack of time. It is lack of intention. It is lack of determination. It is lack of method. It is lack of motive. It is lack of conscience. It is lack of heart. It is lack of everything and anything but time.”
Fervency in prayer requires concentrated times of prayer. This is not to say that there are not occasions where we can’t pray short, fervent prayers. But those only come as one prepares the foundation of concentrated seasons of prayer.
I’ll save the second lesson on fervency for another post. Until then, let us be praying continually!