“At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him” (Mark 1:12-13).

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35).

Alone in the desert. As we begin exploring Mark’s gospel we are caught off guard when we read that just after Jesus’ baptism, the Spirit sent him (drove him, cast him out) into the desert. Jesus was apparently alone, that is, unless you count animals and spiritual beings. Why would the Holy Spirit send Jesus out into the desert? Think of the ways this time of temptation prepared Jesus for his ministry. Consider how this time of temptation prepares us to allow Jesus to minister to us. He does understand, doesn’t he?

Alone before sunrise. Jesus gets up before sunrise and heads out to a solitary place. He prays. Hours earlier Jesus had been visited “by the whole town” who brought their sick to him. Hours later Jesus would begin a preaching tour to the nearby villages throughout Galilee. Think of the ways this time of prayer prepared Jesus for his ministry.

God prepares us to minister. Sometime we are prepared by times of trial and temptation. Other times we are prepared through times of prayer. When we are focused on God we better understand ourselves. When we understand ourselves, our identity and limitations, we minister better.

A friend recently talked to me about his fear of being alone. Most of the conversation focused on temptation. While another friend recently shared with me his practice of getting up before sunrise to spend solitary time with God. Most of the conversation focused on confession and praise. Both friends are uniquely prepared for ministry as a result of their experiences alone.

Do you fear being alone? Do you crave it? How do you use it? What can you learn from Jesus’ alone times? How can you use those solitary experiences to minister to others?

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