Saturday, March 12, 2016

Saturday, Fourth Week of Lent: Prayer in Dark Times

"O LORD, my God, in you I take refuge.” – Ps. 7:2

In the Garden of Gethsemane, as he sweated the blood of loneliness and misunderstanding, Jesus dropped to his knees in prayer. From Jesus’ prayer in the garden, we can learn how we too should pray in a dark time. Five elements might be highlighted:
1. Childlike intimacy with and reliance upon God. Jesus begins this prayer with the words, “Abba, Father.” Abba is a word that, at the time, a child would use affectionately for his or her father, roughly equivalent to our words “Daddy” or “Papa.”
2. Trust in God, despite overpowering darkness and chaos. “All things are possible for you.” Jesus prays in trust, not just when truth seems to be prevailing, but also, and especially, when falsehood seems to be triumphing.
3. Radical honesty and boldness in expressing fear. “Let this cup pass.” Jesus tells God where he’s really at, frightened and reluctant before bitter duty. There’s no denial or pretense in his prayer. Iris Murdoch once wrote: “A common soldier dies without fear. Jesus died afraid.”
4. The willingness to give God the space within which to be God. “Yet not my will, but yours be done.” Despite everything in him that cringes before the implications of saying yes, Jesus gives God the space to fulfill his purposes.
5. Repetition, repeated prayer. “He returned and prayed even more earnestly.” Scripture promises that faith and prayer will move mountains, but it doesn’t promise that they will move them immediately. Sometimes, for prayer to be effective, it has to be prayed many times.
Abba, Father, I take refuge in you in my times of struggles. Give me the grace to be aware of the obstacles that keep me from genuine love and speak honestly to you about them.
Adapted from Ronald Rolheiser 

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