Sunday, September 2, 2012

Prayer in the light of Gethsemane…


This guest post was written by Heidi Reinecke.

It was only a brief message—left in a chat on my email window while I was away. Yet when I returned, something about it seemed to rivet my attention to it. Nothing broke my concentration as I replied: “Yes, of course. I’m praying. I’m praying hard.” I hit the enter key with a loud clack, and watched as a brief thank-you popped up in response. A weak smile crossed my face, and a prayer immediately shot Heavenward.

Lord, I don’t know the situation. I don’t know what exactly to pray for. But I know I need to pray.

All day long, that prayer remained in my heart. For hours on end, rang in my thoughts, seemed to be typed onto the screen, called from the clicking of my keyboard and filled the entire atmosphere around me with a sort of quiet cry for help for someone else. At the end of the day, face buried in the pillow, exhaustion about to whisk me off into peaceful sleep, the prayer wafted up again; and then the wakeful reality of the still night gave way to slumber.

I’ve never been what you would call a prayer warrior.

I’ve prayed about things near and dear to my heart. I’ve prayed so hard about things before I felt as if I were pleading for the life of someone I loved. Violent prayers, pleading prayers, tearful, heartbroken prayers… And yet, they were often short-lived. I’d forget, or get distracted, and the prayers would cease. I’ve never experienced anything quite so steady as the prayer of that Wednesday. Or even of the days that have followed it.  I guess you could say I began to think I had it all together. Perhaps I’m actually turning out alright.

Melissa asked me to assign themes to some future magazines the other day. This entailed reading through, or at least skimming, a whole bunch of chapters in the Desire of Ages. All of the closing ones. Well, I sat down to do just that… and ended up overwhelmed, overcome, and reeling from the vivid picture of love that was painted before me.

Through the now-teary eye of my vivid imagination, I saw Jesus Christ, prostrate on the ground of Gethsemane, pleading with heaven for another way. “Let this cup pass from Me.” He was asking for something different.

And silence met His cries.

I watched as the noble Sufferer rose from the ground. I watched as He stumbled back to His disciples, longing for the knowledge that someone cared enough to pray for Him. My heart sank as He found them sleeping. I listened as His voice, full of pity and compassion, yet stained with agony greater than any human could know, asked Simon if he couldn’t but watch for an hour. And tears streamed down the walls of my heart as the Redeemer drug Himself back to His post of dark torture alone. No prayers wafting upward for Him, no comfort from any source on Earth. None.

Although still in my imagination, I ran to the side of Peter and shook him hard. Wake up! Don’t you understand what you’re doing? Wake UP!!

Peter continued sleeping.

On to James…then John… Not one stirred. My cries for them to hear were drowned out by reality and the picture before me blurred a bit as I turned towards the Savior, lying on the ground. I longed to run to His side…but then, I was only sitting upstairs in my office, not standing in the cool, dewy garden of Gethsemane.

Jesus, in His greatest agony, had no one. No one to reach out and touch Him and tell Him that it would be alright. No one to comfort or encourage. But most shatteringly, no one to pray for Him.

And all of that when He could have had it.

And didn’t because those who could’ve been there were asleep.

Tears blinding imagination’s eyes, I turned to shake Peter again…and stopped.

All my life, I’ve found it hard to pray for someone with the gentle earnestness and constancy that I’ve experienced in the last week. All my life, I’ve been asleep. Just like Peter.

Suddenly, the forms of the three sleeping disciples were replaced by the figure of myself, floating through life, tossing around the phrase “Praying for you” without really meaning it. Without following through. Without praying. The sleepers that I had condemned now condemned my own weakness.

And then, this last week sprang to my rescue. Or at least it tried. I have been praying! I have! I’m doing just fine!

It was beaten back by a single look from the Sufferer on the cold ground. That look spoke volumes: It is only through My strength that you’ve been able to pray as you have. Only through My power. Only through Me. And only because I went through all of this for you.

The pride and self-defending attitude faded with the vivid scene. My computer screen glowed harsh on my eyes and I averted them, looking up at the blue sky through the skylight.

Lord, I’ve been so wrong. All my life I’ve neglected those around me. I’ve been just as bad as Peter, James, and John—or even worse.

The reply wasn’t long in coming.

Yes, Child. I know. But I’m not finished with you yet.

Pride hung its head, humiliated. I want to learn Lord. I want to be Your arms, Your voice, Your hands. But I keep on failing, even if only through pride.

I feel a warmth surround my heart, as if strong arms are reaching from Heaven’s gate in a much-needed embrace. Yes, daughter, you make mistakes. But you’re learning. Continue to lean on me—and boldly go where I send you. To all those I send you to. Give to others what you wish to give to Me.

Jesus longed for the prayer of love and sympathy that night so long ago.

His disciples didn’t give it.

And I wasn’t there to give it.

The least I can do is give it to His children here on Earth. Freely, without conditions, without holding back.

A simple prayer can do a world of good.  

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