How do you pray when times are dark, and you are hurting deep inside? When you can’t see a happy ending to the problem facing your marriage, how do you pray? When you don’t know how to help your child through a painful season of life, how do you pray? When you realize that age has caught up with you, how do you pray?
During Lent this year we are being taught by Jesus how to pray, as we look at the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus frequently prayed before major decisions, before choosing the 12 apostles, and before moving on to other ministry locations.
And Jesus prayed during dark times. Each year during Lent we pay special attention to the arrest, trial, suffering and death of Jesus, before we celebrate His resurrection. Jesus faced an incredibly dark night on Thursday of Holy Week, when He went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray, shortly before He was arrested. He said to His disciples, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me” (Matthew 26:38).
Jesus knew that the time had come for Him to suffer greatly and to die on a cross. This would be agonizing physically, and especially spiritually, as He carried the burden of the punishment of our sin. The suffering He endured would be beyond anything we can imagine. What did He do? He prayed.
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39 NIV)
Our prayers are answered because the Father did not take the cup of suffering away from Jesus. It was His death and resurrection that removed the barrier of sin that stood between our Heavenly Father and us. So now the Father delights to hear our prayers. In the darkest times of our lives, we can pray with confidence, knowing that He hears us for the sake of Jesus, and He will do what is best as only He knows.
When we have to walk through dark times, when we have to walk through that darkest time, the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil, for our Good Shepherd is with us. The One who died and rose from the dead walks with us in life, through death, to eternal life.
When times are dark and the world seems to be going crazy, you can pray with confidence. When you hear of another shooting or war seems imminent, you can pray with confidence. When the news from the doctor is bad, you can pray with confidence. When your heart sinks within you over a child or grandchild, you can pray with confidence. Because of Jesus.