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Asceticism

Scripture: Mark 1:35, Mark 6:46

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.

After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.

Reflection:

The word “asceticism” is so unfamiliar to us we likely do not know what it means (long periods of solitude, fasting, prayer, and sacrificial service), or even how to pronounce it. This was not so with Jesus, Paul, the disciples, and most of the first believers. During this time of “forced” asceticism, surely the Holy Spirit can make use of this special opportunity—if we allow it and seek it.

“It is clear that ascetic practices were seriously engaged in by Jesus as well as by St. Paul. Both were upon occasion intensely involved, for long periods of time, with solitude, fasting, prayer, poverty and sacrificial service, and not because those conditions were unavoidable. It would seem, then, that those who would follow Christ, and follow Paul as he followed Christ (I Corinthians 11:1), must find in those practices an important part of what they should undertake as His disciples. Certainly this was so in the early centuries of the Christian era.” -Dallas Willard

"Perhaps we find ascetic practices so hard because we only notice what we lose and fail to comprehend all that we gain. You see, in casting other things aside through ascetic practices, we are brought to a place of simplicity, a place where we can finally focus on the one thing that is all that really matters – God Himself." -Kevin Grenier

Be open to the Spirit’s availability in those “solitary” places today. If much of your day is not solitary, do what Jesus did—go find a place that is.

 

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