Years ago I almost got arrested while spending some alone time with God.
I know, sounds crazy right?!?! Let me explain.
I was praying alone in a tennis court by my apartment. I liked to pray outside.
It was around 11pm. I was a busy seminary student and in full-time ministry, so that was when I prayed and spent alone time with God.
Oh, and I may have been praying out loud without even realizing it. I know…I have issues.
The neighbors saw a strange young man talking out loud to himself late at night and called the cops.
They arrived expecting to find someone drunk or on drugs. I was neither.
They asked for my license, which I gave them right away.
For some strange reason, my license was flagged with a warrant out for my arrest due to an unpaid speeding ticket.
But I knew I had paid that ticket!
So, I begged them to not arrest me.
I told them I was praying.
They probably thought I was crazy and felt sorry for me.
After about 15 minutes of sitting in the back of the cop car…they finally let me go. Whew…I was free!!
The next day I went to the DMV to straighten out the situation.
Lesson learned. I shouldn’t have been praying out loud at 11pm in an open tennis court. Didn’t do that again 🙂
But at least I made it a priority to spend alone time with God!
It’s a habit we all need to develop.
Jesus got away from the crowds and the demands of ministry…to be with God.
The students in your ministry can learn from his example.
Use this lesson to help them do that.
– Nick Diliberto, Ministry to Youth
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Bible: Mark 1:35-39
Bottom Line: We need to follow the example of Jesus – he was crazy busy and in demand, and made time to get away and pray.
OPENING GAME – CROWD TAG
Take the group into a large area and define the boundaries (preferably no larger than a basketball court size).
This game is called Crowd Tag.
It is like tag, except I will call out a number and you need to get in a group of that size, link arms and try to tag other crowds.
When you tag another crowd, they have to join your crowd until there is only one crowd.
But here is the catch – when I call out another number, the game starts over and you have to get in a group with the number of people I called out.
Also, if you don’t find your way into a crowd and you get tagged by yourself….you are out.
Play game as many times as you’d like.
Reflect on Crowd Tag.
Ask: How did it feel to be in the crowd versus being alone?
Which did you prefer: being in the crowd or being alone?
Ok, I’m going to poll the group: Raise your hand if you would rather have been alone than in the crowd?
These are the introverts, the ones who would much rather stay home with Netflix and a comfy blanket than go out with a crowd.
Now, raise your hand if you love the crowd.
These are the extroverts, the people who love a crowd.
People are different and while some of us love to be in a big crowd of people, others of us like to be alone.
Imagine that you were a celebrity.
And every single time you went ANYWHERE the crowds followed you.
How would that make you feel?
Sure, some of you extroverts might love the thought that the crowd would follow you wherever you went, but then the introverts in the group are freaking out right now even thinking about people following you, right?
Share with the group your preference: are you extroverted or introverted and maybe a funny or meaningful story about what this might look like for you.
But imagine that the crowd was ALWAYS there.
When you woke up.
When you wanted to eat lunch.
When you needed to just take a nap.
The crowd was always there, wanting your attention.
And soon you realize that the days when you could just relax or choose what you want to do are gone…because the crowd is there and they want and need something from you.
Raise your hand if you feel like you might faint from the stress of even thinking of this?
Because what I just described is what Jesus lived with during his time in ministry.
Have you ever thought about what it must have been like to be Jesus??
Think of what it would have been like for people to know that here was this man who could heal diseases.
If you were blind, you wanted to get to Jesus.
If you were sick, you wanted to get to Jesus.
All of these people desperately needing to get to Jesus.
Remember the song you might have sung when you were little about this short guy named Zaccheus?
He climbed up in a tree to be able to see Jesus because the crowds were so thick.
Jesus was one manned everyone needed him and was desperate to just even touch him.
It stresses me out even thinking about it!
If you had been Jesus, what would you have done?
Think about it this way, who of you here have felt stressed out?
Maybe you are sitting here thinking about all of the homework that you have to do.
You have practice and school and maybe work.
You have to keep your grades up while you go to basketball, football, baseball, track, dance, and on and on.
And just imagine what it would be like when you are an adult.
With a job.
Stress is real, right?
And pretty much everyone you know feels super busy.
But think about the stress and busyness that Jesus must have felt?
I mean, really think about what it must have felt like to be Jesus.
To know that you have been sent TO SAVE THE WORLD!??!
And this is where we learn an amazing secret from Jesus.
A secret that we all should learn, but sometimes miss.
Ask for volunteer to read Mark 1:35-39.
What was the secret that Jesus can share with us here?
When things got crazy and people were needing him here and there.
To fix this, heal this person, etc.
What did Jesus do?
He went off by himself to pray.
He got up early, even.
Imagine how tired he must have been.
In verse 32-34, it says, “That evening after sunset the people brought Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The WHOLE TOWN gathered at the door and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons….”
The WHOLE town gathered at his door.
Can you imagine how late Jesus must have been up, and casting out demons is some pretty serious work, right?
And what does Jesus do?
He wakes up early.
He goes off by himself.
And he prays.
If Jesus needed to do this, what about you?
What is the cure for stress and being so busy you can hardly remember what to do next?
Go off by yourself…and pray.
When are you going to do that this week?
Maybe some of you right now, just need to leave this room and find a quiet place to pray.
Spend some time right now….spread out in this room.
Let the distractions leave you.
Don’t think about all that you have to do or the crowd around you and pray.
That is a great secret from Jesus – Go and pray.
Give the group some silent time to pray or play some quiet music to give them a chance to pray.
SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Talk as a group about the things that are in their lives that are stressing them out? Is it a busy schedule, demands, expectations, or something else?
How do you think it would have felt to be Jesus with all the demands he had?
When is a time and a place that you could get away to spend time praying?
What is keeping you from spending time with God?
Commit to pray for one another this week that they take the time to spend time alone with God.
Close in prayer.
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