Theology of Prayer: Scriptural Support (Part 18: Mark)

Mark 1 tells of Jesus getting up early in the morning to pray. We know not what he prayed, but we know that he prayed early in the morning while it was still dark. Prayer can be done early in the morning. But this morning prayer session followed in the wake of his healing many. Healing and prayer are closely associated.

Mark 6 shows that miracles are closely followed by prayer. After feeding the five thousand with five loaves of bread and two fish, Jesus went up onto a mountainside and prayed.

The disciples failed to exorcise a demon from a boy, as told in Mark 9, but Jesus was able to rebuke the demon. The disciples asked him why they couldn’t drive out the demon, and Jesus replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.” Here we see that prayer is more powerful than mere words, but we don’t have any other details. Yet, Mark does not tell us that Jesus prayed. Was it a silent prayer? We should not go any further except to say that prayer is identified as a more potent command than words themselves.

Mark tells us that Jesus clears the temple in the 11th chapter of the gospel. He overturned the tables of the merchants, refusing to allow anyone to carry merchandise throughout the courts, quoting both Isa 56:7, “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations,” and Jer 7:11, “But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.'” When they left the temple, the disciples see the withered olive tree, which Jesus had cursed beforehand, and they were amazed. Jesus tells them to have faith: “Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Jesus adds a stipulation: “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Here we see that the temple was supposed to be a house of prayer; Jesus’ curse is equated with prayer; prayer in faith is powerful; but prayer must be coupled with a forgiving heart.

Mark 12 warns against teachers of the law who make lengthy prayers for a show. Jesus says that they will be punished severely. Here we see a warning not to use prayer for eye-service.

According to Mark 13, Jesus tells his disciples to pray that the flight into the Judean hills will not take place in the winter. Prayer, it is implied, can have an uncertain affect on future events.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, as told in Mark 14, Jesus prayed. He told his disciples to sit and pray there. He took Peter, James, and John with him elsewhere in the garden, where he told them to stay and watch. He went on by himself and prayed with a distraught heart. He prayed, “Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” He returned to Peter, James, and John, who were asleep. He wakes them up, and he commands them, watch and pray, so that you will not fall into temptation, for “[t]he spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” He went off on his own again, praying the same thing. Returning to the disciples again, he found them sleeping once more. Apparently he went away, prayed, and returned, what he prayed we do not know, but upon his return he found the disciples sleeping at just the moment that he was about to betrayed. Here we see that prayer can be repeated or even quoted perhaps; prayer can be offered with a distraught heart; prayer aids the willing spirit and weak flesh. We see also that prayer can ask God for something but still submit to his will when the desire opposes God’s intentions.