Wednesday, March 18, 2009

In Strength and Anguish

Invitation to Prayer
Even when we are praying for or about things other than our own spiritual needs and growth, the effect of conversing with God cannot fail to have a pervasive and spiritually strengthening effect on all aspects of our personality. That conversation, when it is truly a conversation, makes an indelible impression on our minds, ands our consciousness of him remains vivid as we go our way (Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines, 184).

The Psalm (Psalm 34:1-8)
1 I will extol the LORD at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
2 I will glory in the LORD;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
3 Glorify the LORD with me;
let us exalt his name together.
4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
6 This poor man called, and the LORD heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.
8 Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed are those who take refuge in him.

The Scripture Reading (Luke 22:41-44)
He withdrew about a stone's throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

For Reflection
Quite often we read our anguish as a sign of God’s absence. Watching Jesus pray in Gethsemane, we learn otherwise. As Jesus prayed he was strengthened by an angel. And yet, even in that strength, Jesus prayed in anguish, sweating blood as he struggled with God and God’s claim upon his life. God’s answer to our prayer does not remove our anguish, but sustains us in it.

What is there in your life that gives rise to “anguished” praying today?

Closing Prayer
Our days are filled with both blessings and anguish, O God. Make us thankful in the blessings and give us strength for that which brings anguish and pain. Use every experience of life to deepen our humility for the good we receive, and our compassion for all who suffer, we pray in Christ’s name. Amen.

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