Friday, April 2, 2010

Quiet Prayers

Matthew 26:36-44
36Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." 37He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me."

39Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."

40Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?" he asked Peter. 41"Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."

42He went away a second time and prayed, "My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done."

43When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

Where I grew up, we lived across the street from a field.  On the other side of that field was a fence, and then a cemetery.  I remember talking long walks in that cemetery, rolling down the long, steep hill in the back of it, picking up buckeyes that had fallen from the tall trees and seeing the headstones of those who occupied  the ground, including my Dad's grandparents.  I loved the quietness of that place.  (At this point, I hear my dad chuckling and saying something about worrying if it was noisy.) 

I always have imagined that this cemetery was like the Garden of Gethsemane, quiet, grassy, with long shadows cast by the trees.  I could see Christ, on his knees, hands clasped, head bowed in prayer.  And suddenly, his prayers break the silence!  Christ didn't pray quietly.  He vocalized his prayers.  That's how he taught us to pray.    He said "You should say." (I think I paraphrased that.) 

That night in the Garden he was not alone, but he might as well have been.  The disciples who went with him couldn't stay awake.  They were suppose to be praying, but they slept instead.  They didn't realize or understand what was about to happen.  They didn't know that the soldiers were coming.  I am sure that they had played the "what if" game for the rest of the night and all the next day.  What if we had been ready?  What if we had protected Jesus?  What if, what if, what if?!  We have their stories and we have their lessons to learn from.  We don't have to make their mistakes.  We can break some of the same cycles. 

Find a quiet place to pray.  It could be your garage, your home, a closet or a cemetery.  Ask God to show you His will for you and that His will will be done. If you are asked to pray for someone, don't back down, forget or go to sleep.  Write it down and pray about it. 

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