Formations lesson for Nov. 11: Living Prayerfully
October 26 2001 by Tom Greene , Mark 14: 32-40

Formations lesson for Nov. 11: Living Prayerfully | Friday, Oct. 26, 2001

Friday, Oct. 26, 2001

Formations lesson for Nov. 11: Living Prayerfully

By Tom Greene Mark 14: 32-40 George MacDonald says that anything large enough for a wish to light on is big enough to hang a prayer on. Blake was sure we could not sigh without our maker being nigh. And the apostle Paul tells us that God knows us at the depth of our groaning. All of which should convince us that our truest prayers may not be neat sentences, formally arranged, that are offered in church, but the curses, wishes, sighs and groans wrung from us by the anguish of our longing, fear and love. This was the situation in which Jesus found Himself. Reading the different translations one can catch in the horrendous overtones of the sentences the mysterious struggle of Jesus: "A sudden fear came over Him (Jesus);" "great distress (panic);" "I'm almost dying with foreboding ('scared to death' as we would say);" "He threw himself on the ground;" "prayed 'Abba' (dearest daddy); everything is possible to You ... take this ... away from Me ... but let it be as You, not I, would have it."

As the disciples and their Master filed out of the Upper Room the last golden rays of pleasant sunshine departed from the skies of our Lord's soul. There in the garden, Jesus looked deeply into a cup of sorrow. What He saw was so ugly and loathsome, so horrible and hideous, that His anguished soul recoiled and trembled. A prayer rose from Him with a great, heart-piercing crescendo: "Father, if this is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from Me. But let your will be done rather than mine." Here in the night He experienced a terrible silence - but silence interpreted by love.

Jesus exposed His heart to His disciples and revealed His lonely need. He unburdened His soul a little to the three disciples thinking that surely they would sympathize with the great spiritual issues that confronted Him. Opening the hurt and anguish He felt in these hours, He said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful even unto death."

If Jesus, with all of His strength needed somebody with whom He can reach out in hope and there would be acceptance and perhaps understanding then we do too. There are dark nights of the soul, times of testing and loneliness. We need someone with whom we can turn and hope for a little encouragement and a little cheering along the weary way.

When Jesus got up from the ground, His prayer was already answered. Dust mingled with the sweat of His brow, but there was no agitation, no recrimination, no disciple bashing, no God blaming, no self-descrying. Come what will, He was ready for it.

What happened? He found fresh insight there, overwhelming reassurance, renewed courage and replenished peace of heart. You could feel the dramatic difference. The One who threw Himself to the ground between the rock and a hard place now got up and gently called on his sleepy followers to follow Him as He went out to meet whatever ... confident that God was in charge.

That's what the TWA pilot, John Testrake, on the Lebanon airport runway found as he leaned out of the cockpit window with a terrorist's gun at the back of his head. He was asked to comment on his deplorable dilemma and that of his passengers. No chirpy optimism. No easy answers like some preacher had given. No pious promise. "God has been with us until now, and He will see us through to the end," Testrake said. Nowhere has there been a better statement of the powerful effect praying can bring in the face of the most dire dilemmas life can bring.

Through his own "dark night of the soul" Jesus prayed. God heard and answered. The victory was won right there. Friends slept, but God neither slumbers nor sleeps. Jesus got up and faced forward reminding us that what counts most is not our faith but God's faithfulness. Not our trust but God's trustworthiness. Not our prayer to God but His prayer for us - a prayer that never ceases.

And so prepared by prayer, we may face our times of trial and testing, sure that victory is on beyond.

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10/26/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tom Greene , Mark 14: 32-40 | with 0 comments
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