Day 14 of Lent: Living Prayer

Let’s look closer.  Mark 14:35-36 takes us to not just another Jesus prayer but gives us a glimpse at a holistic praying of the Lord’s Prayer, suggests Walter Wangerin Jr in his book Reliving the Passion.  That caught my interest.  At age six or seven I knelt beside my mother’s bed and she taught us the Lord’s Prayer.  When my children were six, I started teaching them by leaving out a word here and there and they would fill in more and more blank spaces.  At church we pray the Lord’s Prayer every Sunday.  In the Garden, Wangerin suggests, we see Jesus not just praying the Lord’s Prayer but also living into the prayer.  His body, emotions, desires, and actions embody and express the prayer he taught us.

         “And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.  And he said, “Abba,  Father, all things are possible to thee, remove this cup from me, yet not what I will but what thou wilt.”

In his hour of need, Jesus did not formally approach God with “Our Father who art in heave,” but I would imagine cried, perhaps moaned, may have even yelled, “Abba, Father.”  “Daddy.”  Prayer is relationship not formal ritual.  He continues, “If it is possible, may the hour pass from me,” and  “let this cup pass.”  In other words, save me from the hour of trial, deliver me from evil.  He realizes he could not go through the events without relationship with God, without support.  He cries for help.  Then, he ends his prayer with not his will, but God’s be done.  He prays that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Jesus has been preaching that the kingdom of heaven is near but now he acknowledges that it is time for God’s kingdom to come to earth in the defeat of Satan and death.  “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.” 

         Often in times of great stress when words will not come, those prayers that we have been taught give voice to the drama and trauma of the situation we find ourselves living.  Calling to God as “Daddy” or perhaps “Beloved” if male language is hard, reminds us we are not alone.  “If it is possible,” reminds us that we have choice to obey.  We are not robots.  And praying for the coming kingdom takes us beyond ourselves to the larger picture of life.  Lent reminds us that we are in a struggle that ushers in the kingdom of heaven.

         We may feel like we are in the Garden of Gethsemane right now as we sit by the side of a sick loved one, as we deal with unemployment or struggle to supervise our children doing school at home.  It may feel like the Dark Night of the Soul but may we never forget and always remember we can call out to Abba and the Holy Spirit interprets our prayers when we have no words.  God hears and strengthens us for trials.  Thank you, Lord.

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