Skip to content

Tag: prayer

Lenten Reflections 2021: Your Gethsemane Does Not Define You

Image ny JuiMagicman from Pixabay

@johnvinod | April 1, 2021

Our reading today is Mark 14: 32-42. After spending a significant time with his disciples, eating the Passover meal, teaching, and demonstrating by his actions what it means to follow him, Jesus leaves for the Mount of Olives. He leaves the familiarity, comfort, and warmth of the upper room behind him and walks into the specters of a dark, uncertain, fateful night where he will fight his last battle in Gethsemane. In doing so he once again symbolized what he had done initially: “who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross” (Philippians 2: 6-8).

Jesus wrestled alone in Gethsemane. These are some of the words the gospels writers use attempting to describe Jesus’ inner struggle that night:

“distressed and agitated”

“grieved and agitated”

“greatly distressed and troubled”

“deeply distressed and horrified”

“sore amazed, and to be very heavy”

“deeply grieved, even to death”

“very sorrowful, even to death”

“overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death”

“exceedingly sorrowful, even to death”

These terms do not even begin to express what Jesus endured that night, as he was filled with distress and horror and felt very heavy with the burden that he had to carry all alone. There is actually more involved here than we would ever come to know, because of the limitations of our language in expressing the experience of our Saviour.

Jesus got up several times from the cold, grassy ground and looked for his disciples to share his agony. However, when he much needed their companionship, comfort, and prayers, the disciples were found sleeping. So, he went back again to wrestling alone with his “Abba Father” (Mark 14: 36) being anguished from what was to unfold in the next few hours. Receiving no answer from God for his request, Jesus prayed saying, “Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14: 36). In this, Jesus taught us the difference between a request and a prayer. Being fully human, Jesus’ request was: “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me.” But his prayer was: “Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14: 36 ESV).

Do you recall a time when you thought you were going to fail a test or succumb to a temptation? Are you in a situation where you think you are shrinking from your faith and wish to give up everything and walk away from God? Well, you are not alone. Jesus endured what you may be facing now and more. Jesus Christ was never more human than in Gethsemane. However, that was not the end of his story.

Your current experience does not mean you are too weak to overcome. Your temptations and even your failures do not mean there is anything wrong with you. Your Gethsemane does not define you as it did not define our Lord Jesus Christ. Keep walking in the faith, following, trusting, and surrendering to his will. Amen.

For a paperback, please contact:

Leave a Comment

Lenten Reflection 2012: Retreating into the wilderness with Jesus, Day 10

Day 10, Saturday, March 3, 2012

Jesus’ prayer in the wilderness was accompanied by fasting (Matthew 4:1-4). He gave up eating for forty days and forty nights in keeping with the traditional significance of the number forty in the Bible. Several important events in the life of Israelites happened in forty days beginning with the time of Noah (see Genesis 7:12; 8:6) to Moses (see Exodus 24:18), and finally, to the time of Prophet Jonah (see Jonah 3:4). The number 40 appears about 146 times in the Bible. Most often it symbolizes trial, testing, and/or probation of God’s people. Jesus set an example by fasting that we might follow in His steps. Along with prayer, fasting is one of the best spiritual disciplines one can nurture not only during the Lent but also as a regular practice. Like prayer, fasting teaches dependence on God and fortifies us spiritually to face the temptations of the devil. Fasting also makes it easier for us to listen to the voice of the Lord. Many believers, therefore, give up eating certain kinds of foods or meat altogether or partly during Lent. Some give up drinking alcohol or other beverages. In today’s culture where gluttony is not a sin anymore, we often sit down to eat and drink even when we are not hungry. In eating and drinking in this way, we tend to waste a lot of food, which is also not reckoned a sin anymore in spite of Jesus’ example of picking up the leftovers (see Luke 9:17). Let us give up eating and drinking out of just habit. And let us start honoring God and glorifying Him even in our bodies, as Apostle Paul says in I Corinthians 10:31 (RSV): “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Moreover, what we often fail to recognize is that fasting shouldn’t be limited to just giving up certain foods and drinks. Since the purpose of Lenten fasting is spiritual and it should bring us closer to God, then, we should also be ready to give up a few other major things during the Lent. Some of them could be: our annual vacation, eating out often, superiority complex, our enemies, and inner desire to control stuff and people, slavery to time/goals/planning, unstated wish to be popular, narcissism, and so on. This list could go on and on, and I know it’s easier for many of us to give up food than to give up one of these things listed above. But if our purpose is to glorify God, and if we determined with prayer to surrender such things at God’s feet, He will strengthen us as He did His Son—Jesus Christ. Amen.

Leave a Comment

Lenten Reflection 2012: Retreating into the wildernss with Jesus, Day 9.

Day 9, Friday, March 2, 2012

In His wilderness experience, Jesus spent most of his time praying. From this exceptional prayer time, He learned total dependence on God the Father. This is such an important aspect of the whole wilderness experience, which God wanted to teach the people of Israel, too. That’s why instead of supplying plenty of food for all their journey, God gave them fresh manna daily that was only enough for the day. Through this experience, God wanted the Israelites to learn to cultivate not just dependence, but a daily, habitual, and utter dependence on God. Through Jesus’ wilderness, He learned this lesson well, and afterwards, He was able to teach His disciples the most important prayer. This is known as the Lord’s Prayer, but in reality, it’s’ the “disciples’ prayer” (read Matthew 6: 7-13; Luke 11: 2-4). Therefore, it is yours and mine for us to pray daily.

One of the most significant prayers in the “disciples’ prayer” is: “Give us this day our daily bread.” In this prayer, Jesus is asking us to learn to recognize that the source of everything in our lives is God and He wants us to ask Him everything we need for our daily sustenance. However, in the wilderness of our lives, the stress of our greatest needs leads us to depend upon our own strength. When our own strength diminishes, we often look elsewhere and seek the help of our friends and relatives. God usually comes only as the last resort. But when we do finally come to God asking His help and provisions, He embraces us lovingly and answers our prayers. But, Jesus wanted us to learn that we need to daily and habitually depend upon God for everything. When we fail to learn that, God may teach us again by bringing us into the wilderness. It is in the wilderness experience we find ourselves at the end of our own strength and resources. Any other sources that we had learned to be dependent on have also been depleted. This makes us pray the “disciple’s prayer” in the most meaningful way and then learn to be dependent on God. When we do so, God has promised us to renew our strength in such a way that Isaiah (40:31) wrote:

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;

            they shall mount up with wings like eagles;

they shall run and not be weary;

            they shall walk and not faint.”

May God help us to learn utter dependence on Him sooner than later, so that we may be able to not just walk but soar in His strength daily. Amen.

Leave a Comment

Lenten Reflections 2012: Retreating into the wilderness with Jesus, Day 8

Day 8, Thursday, March 1, 2012

 Jesus’ wilderness gave him plenty of time in solitude. He made the best of this solitude by fasting and praying. Now prayer is a discipline that Jesus practiced all His life even in the midst of His very hectic ministry schedule. At times, He spent whole night in prayer seeking the will of God (see Luke 6:12-16; Matthew 14:23). His last night on earth, before Jews crucified Him, was spent in prayer in Gethsemane (see Matthew 26: 36-46; Mark 14: 32-42; Luke 22:40-46). Even when His chosen disciples could not stay awake, He continued to pray.

Prayer teaches us complete dependence on God. Prayer is not just asking what we want from God because Jesus said, “for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:8). Rather, prayer is a precious time of communion with our Creator. Prayer is cultivating an intimate relationship and a meaningful conversation with God. More than asking, it is focusing on Him and listening from God about what He has to say to us. Every time we pray, we’ll find God is always new and different and yet the same who does not change in His essential nature. However, we will realize that prayer can move God—even an unchanging God can be moved by our prayers to show mercy and compassion and to give us what we’re seeking. Therefore, in every prayer, God calls us to be renewed, to take our fears and anxieties away, and to trust in Him completely. However, in every prayer God is also asking us to respond to the call of serving His people around us. Prayer doesn’t necessarily mean that we spend time with God instead of spending time with our fellow beings. “Rather, it means to think and live in the presence of God. As soon as we begin to divide our thoughts into thoughts about God and thoughts about people and events, we remove God from our daily life and put him in a pious little niche where we can think pious thoughts and experience pious feelings” (Henry Nouwen). So instead of coming to God in prayer, it should become an unceasing way of living a Christian life.

 Let’s pray and confess today: Lord, most of our life I spent time in prayer begging for gifts I want. Forgive me Lord, and teach to focus on you, the Giver of gifts and to pray unceasingly. Amen.

Leave a Comment

You have successfully subscribed to our blog. Thank you!

There was an error while trying to send your request. Please try again.

You agree to receive posts and updates from this site through the above email Id.