Have you ever fallen asleep while praying? I know I’m not the only one because the disciples did it in today’s reading. I have every good intention of praying through the praises, concerns, joys, requests, and pleas for forgiveness. I’m sure the disciples did, too.
Jesus told the disciples, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” They just didn’t understand. It’s hard to put ourselves in their shoes, much less understand the distress that had overtaken Jesus. What we do see is that Jesus’ response to his anguish was to pray. We can probably think of a time when we were faced with doing something we dreaded. Like in speech class, getting up in front of the class knowing your knees were going to knock and that words would be stumbled over. But Jesus’ dread was so much more than this. So much more.
As few verses back Jesus gives us a model for prayer. Here we see that he is encouraging us to use it. Prayer is not a once and done thing. Like telling someone you love them. David used that example in his sermon yesterday. He didn’t just tell me once that he loved me and figured I knew it never to tell me again. It’s something he can say over and over again. He can “keep” saying it, lest I forget.
That’s what Jesus is getting at here, too. Keep asking. Keep seeking. Keep knocking. We can only grow closer to our Heavenly Father with continued contact. We need to realize our need for God and consistently be building that relationship. We do that by asking, seeking, and knocking continually.
Simply put, fasting is going without food for a particular period of time for spiritual reasons. Have you ever fasted? I may have missed a meal or two here or there, but unless it was intentionally meant for spiritual growth it doesn’t count. Dieting doesn’t count either.
In the Bible, we hear of fasting. The Jewish people would fast on the Day of Atonement. There were other times, too, both for an individual and involving everyone. You will recall Jesus fasted while in the wilderness. However, today in our mainstream churches the spiritual practice of fasting is not front and center.
Who better to learn prayer from than the Master himself. Jesus is giving us a model to follow. Did you recognize the prayer? In the tradition I grew up in, we prayed that every Sunday. The Lord’s Prayer was something we memorized as a young child. In Confirmation classes, we unpacked the meaning for a deeper understanding of what we had been saying over and over.
It’s easy to get lazy when we say something over and over. It’s almost like being on autopilot. We need to be careful to not just go through the motions but truly be present in the moment saying the words as if we were saying them for the first time. Jesus also cautioned us not to be like hypocrites, drawing attention to ourselves when we pray.
People have been talking about end times for centuries. Even here in our passage today we see, “the end of the world is coming soon.” Over the years, there have been those who have tried to crack the code to figure out when it is actually going to happen. There are some who have been so sure they knew, they based their whole life on being prepared. Then the time came and went without incident. The sun rose and set once again. Life goes on.
The Bible tells us only God knows when. Yet, we know the end is coming, it always has been. What do we do about it? Live expectantly. We should be living our life, preparing for something greater. Whether we see the end of the age during our lifetime or not, we can have the assurance that a much better future awaits us. We can be living and preparing now. Continue reading “1 Peter 4:7-11 – End Times”