Daily Devotional for Small Group Discussion: While It Was Still Dark
- What wakes you up or keeps you up at night?
- Are there particular psalms, other biblical passages, or prayers that you use in such times?
- Who or what offers you new light (or Light) when you are sleepless in the middle of the night? Does it help to know that Jesus experienced such times?
In the morning, while it was still very dark, [Jesus] got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. – Mark 1:35 (NRSV)
Since it was long before the sun’s light dawned, what woke him up? Was it his “two o’clocks,” as a colleague calls them, those worries that awaken us in the middle of the night so we don’t get back to sleep till morning?
Or perhaps he’d spent the whole night tossing and turning, thinking about the day before. He’d started that Sabbath planning to teach and preach in the synagogue. But those plans got upended by the man with a tormenting spirit. By the end of the day, people with similar spirits had flocked from all over Capernaum to be healed by him. Maybe it was sheer exhaustion that kept him awake and got him up while it was still dark. Perhaps you’ve had such nights.
How did he find his way in the darkness? Did he have a torch or at least a candle? How do we?
And what did he pray in that deserted place? He was a young rabbi, and his fame had already spread. Was he willing to acknowledge his fears and uncertainty so early on? Perhaps he just recited some psalms, especially the ones that promised God’s presence in the valley of the shadows or even in the depths of Sheol.
Or maybe he just sat in the darkness, waiting in silence as it gradually gave way to the new light of a new day. Perhaps his prayer was simply to breathe in the fresh air of a new morning.
Perhaps, sometimes, that’s our prayer, too.
Through the shadowed nights of our own souls, O Lord, hear our prayer. Breathe in your hope. Breathe in your Light. Amen.
Talitha Arnold is Senior Minister of the United Church of Santa Fe (UCC), Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is the author of Mark Parts 1 and 2 of the Listen Up! Bible Study series and Worship for Vital Congregations.