Get Up And Pray
39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him.
40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.”
41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed,
42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.
44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow.
46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”
The “Mount of Olives”, rising to the east of Jerusalem, separates the Holy City from the Judean Desert.
The Kidron Valley, which surrounds Jerusalem to the east, separates the Mount of Olives from the city and from the nearby Mount Zion, located further to the south, from where Jesus set off on foot after the Last Supper, crossing the valley to reach Gethsemane. Its name, still used today, comes from the olive trees that for thousands of years have grown on the slopes of the Mount.
The disciple Luke, in particular, stressed Jesus’ frequent visits to the Mount of Olives, where he went to pass the night and to instruct His disciples (Luke 22:39).
The following events in Jesus’ life that happened on the Mount of Olives are as follows:
- Jesus taught them the Lord’s Prayer.
- He wept over Jerusalem.
- The acclamation upon His entry into the Holy City on the back of a donkey.
- Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane followed by His capture.
- His Ascension into Heaven, which occurred at the summit of the mount.
On the night when Jesus was betrayed, we are told that He went as usual to the Garden of Gethsemane, which is at the foot of the Mount of Olives. Jesus, knowing that His hour was near, went there with the primary objective of praying.
Today, more than a week after Good Friday and Easter Sunday, I am drawn to this particular passage of Scripture as it reveals that Jesus, who was fully aware of what was about to happen to Him, knew that the only way He could successfully complete His mission was to pray. Without prayer, He knew He might not be able to overcome His own flesh as He knew that He was about to suffer physically, mentally and emotionally. As Jesus laboured in prayer to overcome His own flesh, His advice to His disciples was, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.”
Whenever we face difficulties or have to make difficult decisions in our lives, how often do we listen to Jesus’ advice to pray? We normally “fall into temptation”, get into a mess, then in our desperation, we decide to pray.
Like the disciples, sometimes we are “exhausted from sorrow” due to our own circumstances and instead of praying and gathering strength from the Lord to face our situations, we choose to sleep. We sometimes hope to get away from our problems, thinking that if somehow we could lose consciousness, we could at least temporarily forget about our sorrows. Some of us may even decide to drink and get ourselves drunk so that we can get ourselves unconscious or take drugs in order to hallucinate as we are “exhausted from sorrow”. We somehow think that if we can stop being conscious, we will forget or even solve the problem.
If you are someone who feels “exhausted from sorrow”, please know this truth that Jesus loves you. He died for your sins so that you can be set free from the burdens that you bear. Whatever form of sorrow you may be suffering, Jesus has been through them all and He understands how you feel. God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to earth so that He could experience how we feel as human beings. That evening at the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus too was “exhausted from sorrow” but instead of sleeping, He chose to pray. He knew that when He prayed, He would receive the comfort, the strength, the encouragement and the courage to continue doing what He had to do. After His prayer, we read that “an angel from heaven appeared to Him and strengthened Him”. This is what happens to us when we are ready to pray in faith whenever we are “exhausted from sorrow”.
Sadly, most of the time when we are “exhausted from sorrow”, the last thing we want to do is to pray but at such times, we must remember that Jesus has advised us to “pray that you will not fall into temptation.”
In Matthew 11:28, Jesus told us “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Let us pray.
“Dear God, I thank You that You love me so much that You sent Jesus to die to purchase my freedom. I thank You that whenever I pray to You, You give me the strength and comfort that I need and lift the burden off my shoulders. Father, I thank You that You are always there to give me rest when I go to You. I commit to always in all things, look to You and pray so that I may receive from You strength and wisdom that I need in my life. In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen.”