By Lyndal Walker – Youth for Christ Australia National Prayer Coordinator
You know God is really speaking when he delivers exactly the same message spread over a few weeks through two different people who are not connected!
That’s what happened on my recent visit to Canada to serve alongside Youth for Christ in Ontario. In early May I was privileged to spend a week in South West Ontario with Joel Martin, the Youth for Christ Canada Prayer Coordinator, and his family. We visited different Youth for Christ ministries in the area and one day he delivered a devotional on Mark 1:35-39:
35 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. 36 And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, 37 and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38 And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” 39 And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.
Six weeks later, I was at the National Ministry Conference of Youth for Christ Canada in Quebec City. The very first plenary session, delivered by Steve McCready, was on the exact same passage.
Both Joel and Steve unpacked this passage beautifully, and I’ll do my best to summarise the main points that God is communicating at this time to, I believe, Youth for Christ as a whole:
- Jesus was intentional about getting away to be alone in prayer. If you read from verses 29-34, you see that Jesus had just had a very busy night of ministry. He healed Simon’s mother-in-law and then the WHOLE city gathered at the door so Jesus could heal them too! They came at sundown…so I could imagine it was a pretty late night by the time He was finished. Yet Mark is very specific to say that Jesus rose very early to get away to pray. Busy ministry lives and the ‘drum beat’ of the world try to keep us from intentional communion with God, but He’s inviting us to ‘sit down’ to be with Him.
- Jesus comes out of His time of prayer with renewed clarity in regards to His mission. He had a conviction of His purpose and a strengthening of His calling to go and preach throughout Galilee in the synagogues. He was sent as the Shepherd of Israel (Matt 2:6)
- Jesus came out of His time of prayer with increased capacity. He goes into the ‘tough stuff’ of the kingdom – casting out demons – which displayed that the Kingdom of God was near.
Steve reiterated that prayer is the work that we get to participate in – it is not an add on to ‘real ministry’. We have been purchased to have intimacy with God, so in the midst of the ‘doing’ of ministry, let’s be intentional to set aside alone times of just ‘being’ with our Father. In this place, we will receive the clarity we need for the mission He has called us to and a renewed vigour to do the supernatural works of the Kingdom. This will bring much glory to the Father.