Saturday, March 22, 2008

November 26, 2007

A "God with God" Moment

I noticed something new this weekend and I was shocked by what I found… or might I say, what I didn’t find. I was reading Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane in Mark 14. I’ve read it countless times, for it describes Jesus at His most human level. You encounter phrases like, “began to be very distressed and troubled” and Jesus’ himself describes his situation in these words, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death.” We gain insight into the heart of God unlike any other place in the Gospel narratives. He then prays, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.” At least the first part sounds just like me. Sounds like just about any of us. Jesus, when he finished praying returns to his disciples and finds them sleeping when they should be praying due to the seriousness of the hour. Then, we find Mark stating Jesus “Again went away and prayed, saying the same words.” I highlighted these words because it literally says “praying, he said the same words.” Was Jesus’ prayer not effective? Boy, that sounds really human to me. This happened to Him three times. And three times he finds the disciples asleep on their watch.

But what is missing from this prayer? The voice of the Father. Two other times Jesus prays and the Father verbally responds. At his baptism, while he was praying, the Father responds with beautiful words of affirmation, “You are my son whom I love, in you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:21-22). At his transfiguration, while he is praying on a mountain top, the voice again echoes, this time to the disciples, “This is my son whom I have chosen. Listen to him” (Luke 9:28-36). But as Jesus prays in Mark’s gospel in Gethsemane, there is no response from heaven. The Father is silent.

If this is Jesus at his most human, what does this tell us about our prayer life? In prayer, we are to be completely honest, to be our most vulnerable, our most transparent. We are to tell the Lord exactly what our will is (often it’s the easy way out, or the way which brings us the most honor). But Jesus ends his prayer with the “God’s Will” postscript. It’s a great practice of affirming, “Lord, I do not want the universe or even my small portion of it to be run according to my will but instead I submit all to your will.” And in all honesty, we do not need to hear from God to submit to what He has already revealed to us. Jesus knew exactly what the Father’s will was for his life. He has told his disciples three times his mission was to suffer and to die (Mark 8, 9, 10). But if you noticed, simply the practice of prayer (even apparently unanswered prayer) seems to strengthen Jesus.

Personally, I find great power in prayer as I actively give myself over to God in prayer. I do not need a miracle from heaven each time I pray. Nor do I need a vocal intervention into my specific circumstance. Prayer is faith building all by itself, as I de-commission my will and co-mission God’s will as the driving presence in my life.

Lord Jesus,
Hear my prayer.
As I give myself to You today,
I need not hear from You in a super-natural manner;
No voice is needed, no miracle demanded;
Lord, simply an empowerment from Your Spirit;
That I may decrease as You increase.
Hear my prayer.

Now, Go with God.

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