If you were to flip through the pages of the Bibles on my bookshelves you would notice the letter P, over and over again, in the margins and columns. It seems I have always been aware of and searching for God’s instructions about prayer.
So, recently, I was surprised to wake up with the strong impression that I needed to study about prayer. At once, I understood this was not just to be about prayer in general, but a study with an emphasis on contending in prayer. This, I had never done. And, as I had just experienced several sleepless nights of praying for those in hard and hurting places, I trusted this was from the Lord.
I planned to find a study notebook and begin my assignment as soon as life settled down, but God had other ideas.
My study began that day when I stopped at the coffee shop to have my daily devotions.That morning’s reading happened to be Luke 22. As I came to verses 39-47, I saw my first lesson on contending in prayer as I read, “And He came out and proceeded as was His custom to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples also followed Him. When He arrived at the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground. When He rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow, and said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation. While He was still speaking, behold, a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was preceding them; and he approached Jesus to kiss Him.”
As I studied these passages through the lenses of contending in prayer, I learned:
Jesus had a prayer routine. “He came out and proceeded as was His custom (or habit) to the Mount of Olives.”
Jesus instructed His disciples what to pray. “Pray that you may not enter (fall or give) into temptation.” For the first time, I realized this is nearly the exact instruction Jesus gives in Luke 11 when the disciples asked Him to teach them to pray.
Jesus petitioned the Father with His desperate desire, but then relinquished His own will to the will of the Father. “He knelt down and began to pray, saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” Again, I recognized that this was a part of the Lord’s prayer which Jesus taught His disciples to pray.
Jesus was strengthen by angels. Nevertheless, afterwards, He continued to pray fervently, in agony. “Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood.” Here, it struck me how even though an angel came to strengthen Jesus as He prayed, it did not mean the battle was over. Then, I recalled how angels also ministered to Jesus after he had fasted for forty day fast and was tempted by the devil in the desert. (Luke 4:1-11)
Jesus exhorted His disciples not to let exhaustion and sorrow keep them from praying. “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” There is a time, when weary as we are, we need to keep on praying!
Jesus routine of prayer put him at the right place, at the right time to set in motion the ultimate will of His Father. “While He was still speaking, behold, a crowd came and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was preceding them; and he approached Jesus to kiss Him…”
I am blown away as I study about contending in prayer. In this first lesson, I am acutely aware Jesus both taught and modeled to us how necessary it is to contend in prayer even, and especially, in our most dire circumstances. As some have asked me to share what I am learning, it is my hope is that these lessons will be an encouragement to you as well. Contending in prayer with you and for you! Cathy