Struggling in prayer and struggling on in prayer
In all the gospels we read that Jesus, in Gethsemane struggled in prayer, even sweating blood and tears (and the disciples fell asleep). One of the most haunting of questions is Jesus returning to his disciples when he really needs their support –
“could you not even pray an hour?”
We also discover Jesus going out on his own on other occasions, often over night to pray.
Our busy world and our ‘shallow’ world likes things done easily and quickly. If we can get it done quickly that is better and if we don’t need to do it (and it is a hassle) then let’s not waste time on it.
We do sometimes have a prayer vigil, maybe on Maundy Thursday, but many of us, clergy included, do not find it easy.
Spiritual disciplines are not easy, just as a fitness regime requires us to work at it, especially if we start rather unfit (or worse!). But just as a fitness regime builds physical strength so spiritual disciplines will build spiritual strengths.
There are two challenges here that I see.
First, we note that praying, wrestling in prayer, was not easy for Jesus – prayer is not always easy, and we don’t always feel good when praying. If we are praying with passion and compassion we will feel stirred up, we will feel pain, we will feel frustration and we may even feel fear and alone as we confront the challenges. So let us know that this is how it is, and learn to engage bit by bit, bit more by bit more.
And then, second, and again using fitness training as an analogy, we may need to build up our ability to pray and intercede for others. Set a reasonable period of time and develop that practice, and find the time of day when you are most likely to have focus and energy and not be interrupted.
interceding is hard work; it is not easy or pain-free. Jesus wanted his friends’ support, and we would do well to find the support of others.
Can we learn to pray and intercede more deeply?
or are we too busy, or not concerned, or too tired?
It is a challenge