Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” 37 He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. 38 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
39 He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
40 Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? 41 Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”
42 Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open.
44 So he went to pray a third time, saying the same things again.
– Matthew 26:36-44
We’ve been urging one another to keep our eyes on Jesus during these days of Lent, thinking of betraying eyes, denying eyes, and even murderous eyes. Now we want to encourage our eyes to be praying eyes…looking to Jesus for help, guidance and his will.
Jesus is our great example here. He is facing the most difficult day of his earthly life. He will be betrayed, arrested, falsely-accused, tried and convicted. He will be mocked, scorged, beaten, and crucified. He will die and be buried. He knows all this and the prospects are daunting. So what does he do? He prays. When we face troubles of any kind, let’s follow Jesus’ example and pray.
We can pray for God’s help – just as Jesus does. He goes to the Father and asks that the path before him be changed, that he will not have to suffer and die. We can ask for relief from troubles, for a different future than what we see before us. We can ask for God’s help. “Help Lord!” is a beautiful and short prayer. We can pray that simply and directly.
We can pray for God’s guidance as well. We can pray that God will help us make good decisions. In this current situation, we need guidance and wisdom. Some is simple and straightforward. Wash your hands often. Observe social spacing. If you’re feeling unwell stay home. Cover your cough. Don’t go out unless you have to. We must not put the Lord to the test. We pray for guidance and do the good we are able to do.
We also pray for God’s will to be done. The petition of the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” is a beautiful prayer. God’s will – as displayed in heaven is for no sickness, no sin, no satan, no death. Only joy, light, life, and glory will be ours there. We are praying for this to be done here just as it is in heaven. But realize this: even in heaven there are times of waiting for God’s will to be manifest.
We know and believe God’s will is good, and we pray that it be done in and among us – not just by others.
I hope you will join us for online worship this Sunday. We’ll have this available from our website at St. John: stjohn.tv.