Today we see how everything that Jesus accomplished – including His preaching, His driving out of demons, and His healing of a leper – is rooted in His life of prayer. It is His intimate union with the Father that enables Him to accomplish all that He does. Saint Cyprian of Carthage writes,
Not by words alone, but also by deeds has God taught us to pray. He Himself prayed frequently and demonstrated what we ought to do by the testimony of His own example. As it is written: ‘But He himself was in retirement in the desert, and in prayer,’ and again, ‘He went out into the mountain to pray and continued all night in prayer to God.’ But if He who was without sin prayed, how much more ought sinners to pray, and if He prayed continually, watching through the whole night with uninterrupted petitions, how much more ought we to lie awake at night in continuing prayer!
Jesus Christ was united to the Father by nature, which means that He naturally shared His life and His power. We are also called to be united with God and to become by grace what God is by nature. However, if we are to live our lives in His strength, it is essential that we follow Jesus’ example in developing a life of prayer. We need to spend time with Him, withdrawing from all that distracts us from Him. Saint John Cassian describes this when he writes,
We enter into our chamber and shut the door and pray to our Father … removing our hearts inwardly from the din of all thoughts and anxieties. … We pray to the searcher not of words but of hearts … in secret from the heart and fervent mind.
The Holy Gospel according to Saint Mark 1:35-44:
At that time, Jesus rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him pursued him, and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” 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.” And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons. And a leper came to him beseeching him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. And he sternly charged him, and sent him away at once, and said to him, “See that you say nothing to any one; but go, show yourself to a priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.”