Location, Location, Location
“15But now even more the report about Him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. 16But He would withdraw to desolate places and pray.” (Luke 5.15-16) Why do you think Luke draws this contrast?
Verses 15, and 17 discuss “great crowds” being around Jesus, but that little sentence that is verse 16 is opposite; desolate. The word desolate can be translated several ways; most commonly “desolate, wilderness, lonely places”. In Mark 1.35, the KJV renders this same word “solitary”: “…[He] departed into a solitary place, and there He prayed.” There is great value is finding a solitary place to talk to God. We can read of many occasions where Jesus ducked-out of public view to speak with our God. This may be the best way to pray; purposefully go to a specific place for the sole purpose of focusing yourself to talk to God. Since I was little (relatively speaking), I can remember hearing the phrase, “I am closer to God when I am _______, than I ever have been in a church”. Perhaps.
What Jesus is doing in all these surrounding verses is not to be forgotten. He is administering whatever aid He can to those who need it most. Jesus found people to help because that is what He came to do. He struck that perfect balance between seeking and saving the lost and bearing the afflictions of His brothers.
I have been blessed to take deep breaths of frozen Rocky Mountain air, humid off shore air, and even a whiff or two of stale under-ground air; there are many places where a soul can be laid bare to praise God. As previously mentioned, Jesus made sure to find a place like this often. It is good to do. But when His soul was refreshed, He immediately returned to strengthening those who needed Him. I may be closer to God surrounded by His nature, but He is among those who gather in His Name.
Just a little reminder- you ain’t Jesus. In these stories, you are best represented by those who are seeking Jesus- and wherever He is, that is where they go. To find Jesus and be healed by Him, they go to where He is. You can seek Jesus anywhere, but if you need healing, the example set is to gather where He is.