They are just two words, but they speak volumes to us.
It is Luke’s description of the Gethsemane moment.
It includes the usual “pray that you too will not fall into temptation” admonition to Peter, James and John. But Dr. Luke chooses not to chastise the sleeping disciples, and doesn’t remind them of the “weakness of the flesh” in the face of temptation that undermines the “willing spirit.” He instead does a doctor-like thing and uses vivid language to describe the agony that Jesus was experiencing, this night before his death.
The words cut to the heart of the emotional agony that Jesus was facing ... “anguish” ... “his sweat was like drops of blood.”
I often call this “the real Lord’s prayer.”
It’s the prayer Jesus often prayed:
“Not my will, but yours be done.”
It was no casual mundane prayer – it was the heart cry of a Saviour about to take the sin of humanity upon himself.
It was a prayer of total surrender and complete trust.
Right after this prayer comes Jesus’ arrest and Peter’s betrayal of his Lord. It reminds of another prayer Jesus prayed just before the garden in Luke 22:32. He prayed for Simon that his faith wouldn’t fail him and that he would stay strong and committed. I always remember the words of John Wimber commenting on this text:
“The good news is that Jesus prays for us. The bad news is that we’re gonna need it!”
The two words that I love most? Jesus went out “as usual” to the garden to pray. As usual. This was the practice that best defined Jesus’ life. It was his usual practice to pray.
In a world with COVID-19, and the unthinkable tragedy of what happened in Nova Scotia this past weekend, it makes our hearts ache and our heads hurt. How we need to learn to pray as Jesus prayed with both our hearts and heads.
Like the sleeping disciples in the garden, I wonder how often we miss the gift and privilege and calling to be a praying people. Life is far too complex and uncertain for us to navigate it according to our own wisdom and strength. We need the courage, the peace and the hope that comes when we pray.
What is robbing your soul of peace and hope today?
Are you facing trials and temptations?
Let’s receive the admonition of the old hymn and “take it to the Lord in prayer.” May this increasingly become our “usual” practice. Great things happen when we invite God into our stories.
Seeking to pray “more earnestly” as Jesus did!