Monday after the First Sunday in Lent
And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. He said, ‘Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.” Mark 14:35-36
In Mark’s gospel, prayer is a dangerous activity. From the start of his ministry, Jesus is confronted with the tempter whenever he goes off to the wilderness or to a deserted place to pray. In prayer, he does battle with the lure of power, the enticement of popularity, the temptation to abuse or misuse his God-given powers. In every instance, Jesus struggles with his identity as he hears God’s call to surrender his entire self to God. Time and again, Jesus emerges from prayer in Mark’s gospel and sets his sights on proclaiming the good news of God’s kingdom and doing what is necessary to bring God’s world about. He knows more and more that this is what God wants of him.
In the passage above, Jesus is pleading with “Abba,” to take away what is coming. Struggling in fear, knowing the end was near, his prayer ends in surrender, “not what I want, but what you want.” That is our prayer, every time we pray the Lord’s prayer, “Thy will be done.” These words that we often recite by rote with little thought, are really a prayer about surrender. In it we are asking that our will be aligned with God’s will. We pray that God’s World, his Kingdom may come. When we pray this prayer, we release what we want to what God wants; we submit ourselves to God’s design, giving up our own will. To pray in such a way is to allow oneself to fall dependently into the loving embrace of God.
So, ultimately prayer is an activity of love. It is an activity of intimacy. It is a way for us to approach God, our Creator, the one we call Father, Abba, and immerse ourselves in God’s world. It is time spent unveiling our hearts to God, speaking about our deepest needs, the deepest longings of our hearts. We place our fears, our self-doubt, our joys and our sorrows before God. We trust that God knows what is best for us and so we surrender ourselves to God. We begin to understand and accept God’s activity among us. We become better at allowing God to be God in the fullest sense of what that means. Prayer is not so much about getting what we want but learning how to accept what God wants for us.
I invite you to pray this as a mantra (a repeated phrase) throughout this day:
Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done.
The Rev. John W. Sosnowski
Christ Church, Ithan