Have you ever heard something that just hit you like a ton of bricks?
Maybe you’ve had a light bulb moment when something illuminated your mind and caused you to think more deeply about a thought than you ever had before?
There I was sitting in church on Palm Sunday, struggling to pay attention because of the intense pain I was having throughout my body and the brain foggy fatigue in my mind.
I was already distracted because of the lovely woman who came in late and sat down in front of me. She was wearing a sweater with lace and a bow in her ponytail. I couldn’t help but notice her limp as she came in, her struggle to get to her seat and her curled fingers from the ravages of arthritis.
I began thinking about her and how difficult life must be when you can’t use your hands. I thought about me and my pain and wondered how many other people were sitting in that room living with chronic illness and pain.
Suddenly this verse from the scriptures struck me and grabbed my attention but at the same time, it distracted me from everything else that was being said in that moment.
“And being in agony, He (Jesus), prayed more earnestly.” Luke 22:44
Whoa, Wait! The Lord prayed more earnestly while he was in agony. Agony is much worse than how I would describe my pain. My pain is terrible at times and sometimes it makes me cry but I have never described it as an agonizing pain. Maybe it is agonizing but I have become so used to it in my life that I just didn’t think of it that way.
Whichever words I might use to describe my pain doesn’t really matter. What matters is, am I praying through it? Am I praying about it? Am I seeking the Father during my agony?
Of course, Jesus was headed for the cross, something He willingly did for you and I. He was praying earnestly because He knew what was ahead of Him. He asked the Father to take His cup but He also surrendered and asked for the Father’s will to be done.
I didn’t ask for my pain, I didn’t sign-up for chronic illness and I certainly didn’t willingly make myself sick. Regardless of our circumstances, Jesus set an example of prayer for us to follow.
My Pastor went on to explain that most people don’t pray for themselves. We pray for others, we pray that God might help us collectively but that when he speaks to others they generally tell him that they don’t really pray for themselves, not in a meaningful way.
Those who already have a disciplined prayer life might pray for themselves but I needed this reminder. I’ve been exhausted, I’ve been busy, I’ve been preoccupied in my mind and I admit my prayer life has not been what it once was. I’ve been forgetting to pray for myself and many times my mind is so scattered from brain fog I don’t even know what to pray other than, “God please help me get through my day!”
I certainly never thought that I should pray more earnestly when my pain is heightened or when I’m lying in bed unable to function.
I’ve found that I pray best when I write my prayers out and that I can focus best on what it is I want to say. I do love going back through my prayer journals and writing down answers to those prayers, sometimes reminding myself of things or people I need to continue to pray for.
I want to be like Jesus, praying more earnestly, so I set up a new and fresh area in my home where I can sit and pray and not be distracted. I stacked my Bible, notebook, pens, and devotionals all in my new prayer space so that I don’t have to spend time finding what I need when I’m ready to sit down and pray. Now that my space is prepared, I can sit without distraction and pray more earnestly.
We can have a ministry even when we’re not feeling well. Most of the time pain causes me to not want to think about anything or anyone but this verse is a reminder that even when we’re in pain, when we’re in agony, we can do one of the most important things in our Christian lives, we can get before the Father in heaven and we can pray more earnestly!
Want to know more about why Jesus died on the cross? Visit Questions About Salvation.