Monday, 23 September 2019

Take this Cup

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

“Take this Cup”

                Jesus prays: “Take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done.” Luke 22:42

                When we look at this prayer offered by Jesus in the
Garden of Gesthsemane prior to his arrest we might wonder, what was Jesus asking God to do?  He says, “Take this cup from me”. Did Jesus really ask God to let him walk away from his life’s purpose—to die on the cross? How could Jesus choose something for himself and against God’s will with these words? How could Jesus not want what God wanted him to do if even for a moment?

                Maybe just maybe the human side of Christ was fearful of what was to come. Jesus knew what being arrested meant and as one with many followers he would be made an example. For months he knew that the Pharisees wanted him dead. He was a threat to their way of life. And it was not until the crowd was stirred up by the Pharisees when turned against him and cried “crucify” that he really knew what was to happen.

                Jesus asks, ”take this cup” which is complex. Included in this cup is God allowing Jesus to be hurt with the punishment and judgment that evil warrant. No one else could or would be asked to endure this- the sin of the world was on his shoulders. No doubt there were questions and temptation playing a role here as well. After all, Jesus had been tempted very early in his ministry. But God had reassured him when  he spoke from the heavens “you are my Son”.   So here Jesus is being attempted again for he was uncertain of what was to come. And his heart is heavy. How would the plan play out? Will his arrest, trial crucifixion, death be quick or filled with agony and pain? How will his disciples respond? What about Mary his mother? Jesus carried all of this in his heart as he prayed to God.
                Jesus is sorrowful and troubled, deeply distressed and is overwhelmed with sorrow. He is truly being honest with God the Father in this prayer—Take this cup from me.  The part of Jesus that is human has reached its limits and boldly Jesus asks for help. Jesus asks for help not to be rescued from having to go through it but to endure and to be delivered through it.

                Jesus asked God this prayer—with honesty, trust and in the knowledge that God would help him. How often are we praying with full and honest hearts? Do we trust God to help us through our situations? By understanding Jesus’ two-sided prayer, we understand the depth of pain that he was in before he was arrested. May we learn to be honest in our prayers as well.

PRAYER God help us to fully understand what Jesus asked in this prayer with two sides. Help us to pray with the honesty Jesus had as he sought your help in these dark moments before his arrest. Show us how we are to be honest with you in our prayers and to have hope in you always.

REFLECTION inspired by Elisa Morgan, “The Prayer coin: Reflections on Prayer” Our Daily Bread Ministries 2019

Sunday, 22 September 2019

Jesus’ Two-Sided Prayer

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

“Jesus’ Two-Sided Prayer”

                Jesus’ prayer life was very from outs. He lived prayer-
with every breath he took. Often Jesus needed to be encouraged to eat because he worked hard. Yet he stated, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” John 4:32. I don’t think Jesus had a stash of candy anywhere- but what sustained him was his prayer relationship with God the Father.

                Jesus prayed on many occasions but one of the most contentious times of prayer that he had was when he agonized in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. He called to God the father for help yet asked this in two ways.  He prays“Take this cup from me; yet not my will buy yours be done.” Luke 22:42

                One can imagine the setting—in the darkest time of the night is Jesus praying outside. He is tired after celebrating Passover with his closest friends. After showing them humility and wonder at washing their feet and teaching them through these actions, Jesus must be tired. He did not stop teaching. Even as Judas slipped away from the group Jesus knew that he needed to stop and pray.

                After the celebration of Passover he probably them that he needed to pray and so they all went to this Garden. They did not know why Judas had left all they knew is that Jesus was going to pray and so they went to a familiar location. Jesus asks the disciples to stay awake and be on alert for others and for him. Yet they doze while Jesus kneels, face toward heaven and prays. Here Jesus is sitting in the dirt bent over and praying. He is working hard his body temperature rises as he sweats and yet others found it cool. Then Jesus prays that prayer that gives God two options—take this cup from me; OR your will be done. Don’t force me to do this, but I will, if I have to!

                Just think about the inner struggle Jesus had leading up to time when the soldiers who were to arrest him. He is growing tired each moment that goes by and He does not sleep. Does He ask God to be lenient on him to tell him ‘it’s ok- you don’t have to do for the sake of others;’ go back to the carpentry shop! No! Even though the way to the cross will be filled with beatings, whipping and fatigue Jesus was preparing himself. He wants the Father to let the plans play out so that he will be crucified for the sake of everyone then and now.

                Each time hear those words—take this cup and not my will but yours, we might ask, do we pray with two possible outcomes so that we are asking God to choose between yes or no as in a kiosk menu. Or are we earnestly praying that God will help us to see all the sides of the situations in order that we might decide in the way of Jesus according to God the Father’s plan.

                Jesus prayer calls us to think about how and what we are really asking for in our life. With God, we are not merely filling out a form to get what we want. Growing in faith does not enable this to happen. Growing in faith calls us to know who we are and what we are searching for with God’s guidance and strength.

PRAYER   God help us as we struggle with two sided prayers when in reality we know what our actions should be. Help us to see who we are and to know again that God calls us to serve and be and do what is right in His sight. Continue to teach us to pray so that we will know the will of God. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.       

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

“Flipping the Coin on Prayer”

“Flipping the Coin on Prayer”

                This might be a tongue in cheek title for this reflection on
prayer but what is the chances—should we even use this word- of your prayer getting answered the way you want? Let’s reflect on this for a moment. At any given moment God is receiving billions and billions of prayer requests for everything from a good test result on a math quiz to a diagnosis that is not cancer. But will your prayer be answered?
                Jesus was asked this question by his disciples because they witnessed him spending hours and hours in dialogue with God. Why was prayer to important to Jesus? Why should it be important to us? What happens when we pray? For many people it is a recitation time—rambling off the words of the Lord’s Prayer quickly so that one can go to sleep or do what is scheduled for the day. Other people spend many hours just sitting quietly in contemplative prayer invoking mantra words and letting their minds wander over what is happening in their lives. Still others are crisis pray-ers only. They can be counted upon to pray for any and every uncertain situation. When traffic is backed up and stopped, when a person is injured, when a soon to be mom goes into labour these are the prayer warriors.
                But what does prayer do? God hears so many prayers for peace in the world yet we know that Jesus said without him there is no peace. We often pray for the poor amongst us and Jesus stated that there will always be poor. So what are we doing as we pray? Is it for our sake, the other or for God that we should pray?
                The simple answer is all the above. Our prayers will not change God’s nature, purpose or function, but we who pray will be changed.  Just reflect on the last time you sat with your family and prayed- was it before a meal, in a time of crisis, or a celebration? Were those who were present changed? Often what occurs is simply a breath of air that calms our stress, slows our heartrates and then a shifting of focus to what our relationship is and can be with Jesus.
                How do you pray? Jesus calls us to ‘go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. ..Do not heap up empty phrases with many words, because God knows what you need before you ask.” Matthew 6:6-8
                Prayer changes everything, We often see this on billboards, posters or t-shirts. But what does it mean? When we pray for others God is asked to bless the one be prayed for; to have the Spirit envelop them in protection and safety and to lift them up with life. Prayer changes the one who states the words or if unable to verbally say what is in their hearts, the Spirit intervenes and brings forth thoughts of love and devotion.              How are you praying to God? Let us focus our hearts and minds on Him, and he will hear us and respond with love.
God of grace we praise you because you call us to be in conversation and dialogue with you. So we share our thoughts, concerns and l=praise. Be with s we as pray and enable us to know that you have heard our voice filled with hope and love. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.