Mar. 6, 2012
Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
These few words are packed with so much. As I read them, I picture the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. John’s Gospel is more specific and says Jesus went into a garden, calledGethsemane, to pray. When I traveled to Israel, the Garden of Gethsemane was personally one of the most meaningful spots of the trip. I could feel the anguish of the millions of people, including myself, who have come here to pray like Jesus.
Jesus knows what is ahead of him. He knows it’s not going to be pretty. He knows how it is going to end. This does not prevent the human side of Jesus to earnestly pray for an alternative solution to this awful situation. Yet, the divine side of Jesus understands it’s not that easy.
What caught my attention today was how Jesus prayed so earnestly that his sweat was falling from his body like drops of blood. Wow. Pretty much makes me a prayer schmuck. I’ve never prayed so intensely that my angst turned into fluids being released from my body. That response is most often when I’ve had a good workout and my shirt is soaked. Not for when I’m praying.
Last night should have been one of those nights when I prayed so intensely that sweat poured out from me. One woman from church is on a vent and not responding. It’s so terribly hard on her family. Another woman is back in the hospital dealing with complications from chemo, which she finally finished last week. It was about a year ago that her husband died of cancer. A week-old baby is at UW-Children’s Hospital for bronchial observations. My “oldest” friend’s father passed away late Sunday night. And then I read on Facebook about a young Dad from church having emergency surgery yesterday. I’m confident there are things I’m forgetting. Oh, that’s right. My father-in-law is in the nursing home but getting stronger every day.
Sweat should be oozing out of my pores as I petition for these people and their families. Sorry, God, I’m not the prayer warrior I should be. I know that my prayers may not change the final outcome of these situations. I, like Jesus, must heed, “Not my will, but yours be done” as difficult as this is.
I’ll never be the prayer warrior that Jesus was. Yet, falling on my knees, offering up prayers throughout the day, taking a person’s hand and praying with and for them ought to be as normal for me as breathing. When we do this, I know angels come and give us strength as they did for Jesus. We’ll have many dark, challenging nights in our lives. We’re not alone. May we, too, cry out to the Lord. “Not my will, but yours be done.”
Let us pray: Go to dark Gethsemane, those that feel the tempter’s power. Your Redeemer’s conflict see. Watch with him one bitter hour. Turn not from his griefs away. Learn of Jesus Christ to pray. Amen.