Prepare to listen. Join in this common plea to God: O God, do not be far from me; O my God, make haste to help me! (Psalm 71:12)
Read Luke 22:39-46
39He came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him. 40When he reached the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you may not come into the time of trial.’ 41Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, 42‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.’ [[43Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength. 44In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground.]] 45When he got up from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping because of grief, 46and he said to them, ‘Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not come into the time of trial.’
Note: vv43-44 aren’t found in most ancient manuscripts of this passage, hence the double brackets. It is also only in Luke’s Gospel.
‘Pray that you may not come into the time of trial.’ ‘Get up and pray that you may not come into the time of trial.’ A two-fold command means this is important and we should take it to heart. However, a prayer to avoid ‘the time of trial’ doesn’t mean we will! This is what Jesus prayed for: ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup [that is suffering and the cross] from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.’ And Jesus didn’t get what he asked for. What he did get, because he prayed, was the strength to endure what was about to happen—his arrest and crucifixion. His prayer changed him, not circumstances. He got up from his agonizing prayer in Gethsemane and willingly accepted arrest, trial, suffering and death.
When we pray it won’t always mean our prayers will be answered the way we want. It will mean we’ll be changed; given the strength to endure whatever trial comes our way. Such a transformation is experienced, not because we pray occasionally when we think about it or when things get bad, but because, like Jesus, we make a habit of getting up and going out to pray daily. True prayer changes us because true prayer brings us into the presence of the Living God and when that happens, we can’t help but be transformed.
How is your prayer life? How would you like it to be and what steps can you take today to get it this way?
Respond to Jesus in prayer
Lord, give me the strength I need to endure the issues that I need to face today. May I go out to pray more so that you can empower me to live more faithfully. Amen.
Go and live obediently in the world and pray.
Reading the Bible has always been essential to followers of Jesus. I've been reading, studying, teaching and writing reflections on biblical texts for as long as I can remember. I invite you to read the Bible with me during the Lent and into Easter Sunday.