Today’s author is Debbie Jorgens, Director of Congregational Care and Visitation.

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In the morning, while it was still very dark, (Jesus) got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also, for that is what I came out to do.” And he went throughout all Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons” (Mark 1:35-39).

When I was a junior in college, I lived in the basement of Fjelstad Hall, a gorgeous 1938 English Tudor-style dormitory. Even though I couldn’t see anything other than a tree stump when I looked out the small window of my room, I loved the arrangement in our corner of the basement – four dorm rooms, all opening up to a cozy living room where my friends and I would often talk late into the evening.

One morning around 4:30, I was in the living room studying when Naomi came out of her room. We hadn’t yet gotten to know each other very well, but I had been impressed early on by Naomi’s kind and gracious spirit. She was surprised to see me up so early (although it’s more likely I hadn’t gone to bed yet!). “I didn’t mean to interrupt you,” Naomi said, holding what looked to be a Bible in her hand. “Usually everyone is still sleeping when I come out here in the morning.”

“You’re up this early every morning?” I asked incredulously. Naomi nodded. “This is my quiet time – when I can read and pray before my day gets underway.” Once I learned this about Naomi, I came to admire her all the more, even though I never became nearly as disciplined in my faith practices. Looking back, I realize how spiritually mature Naomi was – especially for someone so young. And I’m convinced that investing that time each morning in scripture reading and prayer had a lot to do with her calm, beautiful spirit and her undeniable sense of purpose.

Mark tells us that early in the morning, Jesus left the house of Simon and Andrew, going off to a deserted place so that he could be alone to pray. I imagine Jesus must have been exhausted when he rolled out of bed and quietly shut the door behind him. After all, just the night before, “the whole city was gathered around the door” of Simon and Andrew’s house, and Jesus “cured many who were sick…and cast out many demons.” I doubt anyone would have blamed Jesus for sleeping in. But he knew the importance of solitude and prayer and made it a priority, despite the needs of all those clamoring for his attention.

In the midst of our busy lives when we feel pulled in too many directions and are overwhelmed by all that needs to be done, may we remember the example Jesus provided. And may we follow his lead, trusting that when we pray, God will meet us exactly where we are and give us all we really need.

Prayer is a way of life which allows you to find a stillness in the midst of the world where you open your hands to God’s promises and find hope for yourself, your neighbor, and your world. – Henri Nouwen