Well-ness Words:  Mind, Body & Soul

Jesus Prays in Gethsemane
(Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42;
Luke 22:39-46; John 18:1-3)

Lent has begun (February 14, Ash Wednesday), and so has our journey through the wilderness, which will last for the remainder of March until Maundy Thursday.  What did you decide to let go, and what spiritual disciplines have you taken on that will help you grow and transform how you live your Christ-like life?  Do you need support and prayer for the journey?  How can we pray for you?  We know that Jesus prayed.  He taught us how to do this when he shared the Lord’s Prayer.  And Jesus prayed some more.

The gospels Mattew, Mark, Luke, and John offer us a glimpse of what Jesus’s prayer was like, especially during the days leading to his crucifixion.  Each gospel tells the story differently.  Matthew describes Jesus as agitated and deeply grieved.  He invited three of his disciples, Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, to stay awake with him while Jesus prayed, throwing himself on the ground.  Three times, Jesus returned only to find the disciples asleep and said to them, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Jesus prayed three times with the same words: “My Father if it is possible, let this cup pass from me.  It is not what I want, but what you want.”

Mark‘s gospel tells a similar story.  Mark, believed to be the source from which Matthew and Luke gather some details and information and add to the stories according to their experiences, is why they are considered synoptic gospels.  Mark calls the three disciples Peter, John, and Jacob.  Again, we see in Mark an agitated and grieving Jesus and the weakness of the three disciples who cannot remain awake and keep watch.

The gospel of Luke, written in Greek for the Gentiles, tells a distinct story.  There are two verses, 43 and 44, “Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength.  In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling on the ground,” not found in earlier translations.  Jesus seems less agitated in Luke’s version of Gethsemane until verses 43 and 44.  He prays “more earnestly” after the angel has given him strength and intensifies when “his sweat became like great drops of blood falling on the ground.”

The gospel of John is different in all accounts.  John’s Jesus has been sharing alone time with his disciples in chapters 13-17, known as the Farewell Discourse, and preparing his disciples for what’s to come.   In chapter 17, Jesus prays for his disciples and asks for protection from the world and evil and for unity, just as he and God are one.  Jesus also prays that his disciples experience the kind of joy of the Lord that provides strength and peace and sanctifies them as they, not being of the world or belonging to the world, are sent into the world bearing the word of truth.  Jesus’s prayer is that through the disciples, the world may come to believe and that those who believe may become one and know how much they are loved.  Verse 24-25 (I love this!) is Jesus’s desire, “Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world…and that the same love may be in them and I in them.”

We learn from each gospel that when we are struggling, feeling betrayed, rejected, unloved, unwanted, misunderstood, and mistaken for something else, we lean on the Rock, as Jesus did when he prayed in Gethsemane.  When we find ourselves searching for words to pray, we know that Jesus has not only taught us to pray, but has prayed and prays and advocates for us when we feel alone and unwanted by others.  While others do not desire our company, Jesus desires that we come to know of the most significant and unconditional love we will ever find, the love of Jesus that leads us to experience the glory of God, no matter the circumstances we face in our daily lives.

Are you feeling like you don’t know how to pray or have no words to say?  Are you not able to remain awake or keep watch?  Pray for yourself and others for protection from the world and from evil, unity, oneness, joy, strength to trust and follow the will of God, and live with peace.  Pray for transforming minds, hearts, souls, and humbleness while bearing the word of truth so that others may come to believe.  Pray that we may become the love of God for each other and the least of these so that the glory of God is revealed to the lost and the brokenhearted.  Close with the Lord’s prayer, and become aware of each word and its meaning.  May our “amen” be the affirmation that Jesus has already saved the world, every one of us.  May we live resurrected lives!  Happy and blessed Easter!

In Christ,
Pastor Iraida