Years ago, I attended the University of Portland and studied Psychology and Theology. I first spent my freshman year of college elsewhere, and when my parents moved to Portland, I transferred to UP. As a transfer student and commuter, I found it more difficult to meet friends. Missing my best friend and roommate from freshman year, I began to pray very specifically to God.
After only a couple of months, I realized that God had begun to answer this prayer before it was on my heart. Because I missed my roommate, I prayed for about two months that God would allow me to meet a good friend. God answered that prayer before I even whispered it to him. The day I met my husband was like any other day at UP where I was running late for the first day of class, slipped quietly inside the classroom, only to realize that the door was in the front of the room. I had to walk in front of the professor to find a seat, and the only seat left was – you guessed it – in the first row, in front of Brian and right next to a girl who would become a dear friend for years to come.
We know that “prayer works” – that is, that God hears our prayers, and though he may not always answer them the way we’d like or in our time frame at times, he does answer. In preparation for Holy Week, I revisited Jesus’ time at Gethsemane. We are told of Jesus’ time of prayer in the garden in each gospel, and in these remembrances we learn about prayer and its importance for each one of us.
First, prayer was habitual for Jesus. According to the Gospels, it was Jesus’ custom to go to the Mount of Olives to pray and to fellowship with the disciples. Second, Jesus prayed with intensity. Jesus wasn’t one to only go through the motions or to fall asleep. In the garden, Jesus dropped to his knees and asked God to remove his burden from him, knowing he would soon be crucified. Third, he prayed earnestly. Though Jesus asked God to do his will, he also prayed that his cup be removed from him. In fact, in Jesus’ anguish, he prayed so earnestly that scripture says his sweat became like drops of blood.
It’s been said that “A spiritual life, without discipline, is impossible.” We all know this to be true. In our women’s prayer group on Monday mornings we have been discussing prayer; more importantly, we have been practicing it. It’s not easy sometimes to get up early as the week begins and to get to church for a time of study and prayer, but this discipline for us has been a blessing and a reward. We’ve begun our time together with different types of prayers, and in closing, we pray for those in need and then spend time in the quiet with God.
For three months now I have written of prayer in my ramblings. Just as we can infer the importance of Jesus’ time in the garden, as it is mentioned in each Gospel, you could say that our prayer time together on Monday mornings has become very close to my heart, as I continue to reflect on what a privilege it is for me to be a part of. Easter is almost upon us, and we can declare that He is Risen! Join us on Thursday evening for a simple meal and a special time of worship. Join us in prayer in the sanctuary on Friday morning as we remember Jesus’ death on the cross. And in your time at home, remember that prayer does work – before we’ve even approached God with our specific needs, God knows how we are going to pray and acts and moves on our behalf. My cup overflows.
In Him, Rachel