Almighty God, I adore Your infinite patience, which has not cut me off in the midst of my follies; I magnify Your wonderful goodness, which has spared me thus long. Let me no longer abuse that precious treasure–time, which you have allotted me as a proper season to work out my own salvation, and secure that happiness which is great in itself, and infinite in its duration.
Let me bid adieu to all those vain amusements, those trifling entertainments and sinful diversions, which have robbed me of many valuable hours, and endangered the loss of my immortal soul. Let me no longer waste my time in ease and pleasure, in unprofitable studies, and more unprofitable conversation; but grant, that, by diligence and honesty in my calling, by constancy and fervor in my devotions, by moderation and temperance in my enjoyments, by justice and charity in all my words and actions, and by keeping a conscience void of offence to God and man–I may be able to give a good account in the day of judgment, and be accepted in and through the merits of Jesus Christ, my only mediator and advocate.
“And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly” – Luke 22:44
I love how in every aspect of the life of Jesus, we see a model of how to do things right. As Jesus faces the ultimate conclusion of His time here on earth, He retreats into the garden of Gethsemane for some time in prayer. How can we even imagine the intensity of what He felt in those moments? And as the intensity of His agony increased, so did the intensity of His prayer.
I face some intense moments. We all do. Although they pale in comparison to what Jesus faced, they are still difficult. Agony comes in a variety of flavors.
If I were to rewrite this verse to refer to myself, it would read something like this:
“and being in great agony, she raised her voice and complained.”
“and being in great agony, she became frustrated and hopeless.”
“and being in great agony, she felt distant from God and didn’t pray.”
“and being in great agony, she felt exceedingly sorry for herself.”
“and being in great agony, she pouted and felt that life had treated her very unfairly.”
I know that in my most difficult moments that I should run to God immediately, but often I don’t do that.
A few moments to wallow in self-pity, a few moments to garner the sympathy of others, a few moments to determine how I’m going to fix things. And the agony only increases and I am no closer to God.
How true are the words of this famous hymn:
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer
Lord, in the various agonies of life, help me to immediately draw near to You.
“So He told His disciples that a small boat should be kept ready for Him because of the multitude, lest they should crush Him. For He healed many, so that as many as had afflictions pressed about Him to touch Him.” Mark 3:9-10
Repeatedly in the gospels we read the accounts of Jesus being thronged or pressed by the crowds. He gained quite a reputation as a miracle worker and there were many in Israel that needed a miracle. Most places He went there were large crowds and all of them were trying to get near Him….because they needed something from Him.
Yes, we are very needy. And God knows we are very needy. He has promised to meet those needs and has told us we can come and ask. What a wonderful privilege. But our coming to Him is not restricted to presenting our needs.
I am learning to be wary in my life of this tendency to come to Jesus only when I have a need. He is so much infinitely more than the One who meets my needs, but sometimes I lose sight of this. The needs in my life, which often give me a new revelation of just how not in control I am, magnify my need for Him. But my need for Him is never less just because life isn’t spinning chaotically out of control.
Oh God, please help me remember this…..
Many will press against Him to get their needs met, but who will press against Him only to know Him? Whose need for His Presence is desperate enough that it drives them to pursue Him relentlessly and recklessly?
Since the first time I read it, I have been fascinated by the story of Abraham interceding before the Lord for the city of Sodom. It is amazing to me that God was willing to refrain from the judgment He intended to bring upon the city because of one man’s request.
I have recently read the story again and was newly amazed at a detail I had never noticed before. Genesis 19:27-28 says:
“And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the LORD. Then he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain; and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land which went up like the smoke of a furnace. “
Abraham awakes to find that the Lord has indeed brought judgment to the cities. What heartache he must have experienced at that moment, knowing that his nephew lived in that city. But verse 29 tells us that “it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot had dwelt.”
God answered the prayer that Abraham had not prayed. He saw beyond Abraham’s words to the desire of his heart, which was for the safety of his nephew, Lot. This brings me great comfort as I pray for those I love, so often fumbling for the right words in prayer. But God knows the very longings of my heart and He hears them, many times, even more loudly than my words.