Sunday, October 02, 2011

Matthew 26:36-46


36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." 37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. 38 Then He said to them, "My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me." 39 And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will." 40 And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, "So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? 41 Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." 42 He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, "My Father, if this cannot, pass away unless, I drink it, Your will be done." 43 Again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. 45 Then He came to the disciples and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!"

There are many things that could be said here, but three observations stand out to me:

FIRST-Jesus sure did slip away a lot to pray! In Luke's Gospel you can see this same kind of thing frequently. If Jesus felt the need to pray in order to walk with the Father, then I am certainly in more need than I normally think.

SECOND-Jesus struggled humanly with this cup of being the sacrificial Lamb-with what He had to do-then turned the struggle into "Not my will, but yours." It's OK to struggle. In fact you must expect it. But as you struggle you want to end up right where Jesus did-NOT MY WILL, BUT YOURS, LORD!

THIRD-What were they doing when they prayed so long? This is where I've missed it a good part of my life. Ever try praying for an hour or two? I have and either I fell asleep or my mind continued to wander or I ran out of things to say. What I've come to realize is that an extended time in prayer is not all about me and my prayer requests. It's about letting my requests be made known to God (Philippians 4:6ff) for sure, but then it's all about listening to what God has to say to me. I've practiced a form of this for years. I pray something at night-a question-and wake up in the morning with the answer or many options to a sticky situation. I take this as a word from God. That's exciting! But this is a little different. After talking my heart out to the Lord, then it is important and so very instructive just to sit there and listen to what He wants me to know. So, with pen and paper or a blank computer screen I am learning to wait and listen for God's heart and His orders for my next steps. People come to mind. Actions pop up. NOW THAT IS EXCITING!

Prayer doesn't need proof that it works; it needs practice!