“And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you may not enter into temptation.’ And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.’ And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And… he rose from prayer.” Luke 22:39-45
Jesus knew His life-assignment to die for the sins of the world was imminent, but knowledge did not remove dread. Facing the tormenting climax of His earthly life, He had a well-practiced habit that would supply the strength He needed to see through His daunting mission. He came out from their supper; He went to “the place” in Gethsemane, on the Mount of Olives, where He often gathered with His disciples; He withdrew to be alone with His Father; He knelt; He prayed, pleading that the cup of suffering might pass; He surrendered His will to God. And an angel came to minister to Him, enabling Him with resolve to leave His agony in His merciful Father’s hands.
I can do the same when facing a foreboding diagnosis or encounter or future, when fear of the unknown or what might be grips me and won’t let go, when I observe a loved one on a path that seems headed in the wrong direction. Have I established the custom? I am more apt to fly to my Father and leave all with Him if this is my daily habit, my regular routine, and while it may be difficult, it is never too late to develop this practice. It requires the resolve we see in Jesus, removing self and getting away, humbling ourselves before Almighty God with unclenched hands, maybe tears, and always persistence. And we can trust He will come through with His comforting presence and strength to endure, to “rise from prayer” and face what He has before us, in His victory.
Lord, only You know all that is to come; in mercy You reveal what I need to know and when. Keep me keeping on with You, practicing the custom of constant communion and trust, that whatever comes, I can leave it with You and face it with serene and bold confidence. Your will be done, amen.