The Need for Prayer

In today’s Gospel from Mark, Jesus spends a day healing many people of physical and mental ailments. We are then told that he rose “very early before dawn” the next day and “went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.”

The reminder is a valuable one. It is not uncommon to hear people, particularly those engaged in ministry of one sort or another, to say “my work is my prayer.” And it it true that St. Paul tells us to “pray unceasingly.” But while our work may be an act of prayer and we may pray in various ways as we go about the course of our other activities, the reality is that we need the equivalent of “a deserted place,” time away from other people and other activities to have some contemplative “alone” time with God. Just as Jesus Himself went off to pray, and just as He invited his disciples at times to “come away” and pray together, we need to allow (in the words of a Mary Oliver poem) for “a silence in which another voice may speak.”