Learning from Jesus – praying in the Garden of Gethsemane
How do we pray when we are in deep distress and anguish?
How do we pray when it appears God isn’t answering our prayers for relief?
How do we pray in the face of great suffering?
This month our Week of Prayer falls in the lead up to Good Friday which prompted me to read about Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. You can read about this in Matthew 26:36-46, Mark 14:32-42 and Luke 22:39-46.
Unfortunately, it is very likely that we will face times of distress and anguish, and times of suffering and pain in our lives. When life isn’t going well and we don’t understand what is going on around us… what do we do? and how can we pray at these times? Here are some ideas from how Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane:
1. Get some time alone with God
Jesus withdrew by himself to pray and spend time with his Father. He took his friends with him but then stepped away to pray by himself (Luke 22:41). It’s so important, especially in times of crisis and suffering, that we find time and space to pray to our heavenly Father. In times like these our own words and even our ‘wordless groans’ (Romans 8:26) expressing our feelings to God are vitally important.
2. Be real with God about your feelings
Jesus brought his honest pain to God in the Garden of Gethsemane. His soul was overwhelmed with sorrow, and he was greatly distressed and troubled (Mark 14:33-34). You only have to read the book of Psalms and the book of Lamentations to see that it’s ok to be real with God in bringing our sorrow, frustration, confusion and pain to Him. Lamenting to God acknowledges our brokenness and gives Him opportunity to give us hope and comfort.
3. Ask others to pray with and for you
Jesus took his disciples with him and asked them to keep watch with him (Matthew 26:36-38). He needed their support and company, even though he was praying by himself. It’s important to share our pain and suffering with trusted friends and to ask them to stand with us in prayer and to keep watch over us. Our friends can motivate us, encourage us and remind us of what’s true in the midst of difficult times. Often just their presence with us is enough to bring great comfort.
4. Keep on praying, and pray again!
Jesus prayed the same things again and again (Matthew 26:44 and Mark 14:39). We can sometimes think, ‘what’s the point? I have prayed this before!’. But God wants us to keep going back to Him, and just like any good parent He loves to hear from us again and again! Jesus encouraged his disciples to be persistent in prayer (Luke 11:5-13 and Luke 18:1-8) and to keep going to God with our prayers and requests.
5. Remember that God is your Father
Jesus knows who he is praying to and affirms that relationship by addressing God as his ‘Father’ (‘Abba, Father’ in Mark 14:36, ‘My Father’ in Matthew 26:42 and Luke 22:42). He also declares the truth that everything is possible for God (Mark 14:36). When we pray through difficult times we acknowledge that God is in control and He reigns. Even when God doesn’t answer our prayers in the way we hope or expect, it’s important to trust Him and to submit to His fathering of us.
6. Get strength and comfort from God
In Luke’s account, he describes how an angel from heaven visited Jesus and strengthened him in the Garden of Gethsemane. When we pray, God doesn’t always take away the difficult circumstances, but He does comfort us and give us much needed strength to stand and bear the painful situation.
Which one of these ideas really stands out to you?
Which one do you want to practice most this Easter?
Pray like Jesus!