Be Earnest in Prayer
By Rev Tan Eng Boo
“And being in agony he prayed more earnestly;
and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground”
The human side of Jesus was seen in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was in agony as he prayed. “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence” (Heb. 5:7).
Prayer has always been a part of the life of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. As He reaches the climax of His ministry, we see Him in earnest prayer. Instead of letting fear overwhelm or sink Him into despair, Jesus dropped to His knees and prayed. We can follow Christ’s example and humbly submit our looming concerns into our heavenly Father’s secure hands.
“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 Jn. 5:14).
A Troubled World
We live in a world full of troubles. Job said, “Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7), but he was also full of confidence when he said in Job 5: 8-9, “As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause, who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number.”
Jesus also told His disciples to be prepared for trouble. “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places” (Matt. 24:7 KJV). Yes, the world is full of trouble and it is getting from bad to worse. Covid-19 has brought the world to its knees. What is the solution to this pandemic? Let us learn from the example of Jesus. Be earnest in prayer. Let us also learn from Job who committed his “cause” to God.
When Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, the intensity of communicating with His Father was highlighted through His extreme physical manifestations of agony and sweat. This was because Jesus was going through spiritual agony. We will not be able to comprehend the intensity of such praying unless we go through it ourselves. We read of King David praying and fasting for his child when he was sick:
“Then Nathan went to his house. And the LORD afflicted the child that Uriah's wife bore to David, and he became sick. David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. And the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground, but he would not, nor did he eat food with them” (2 Sam. 12:15-17).
Praying earnestly involves focused and passionate praying. It is coming to God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind. When the apostle Peter was in prison, the church prayed earnestly for him. “So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church” (Acts 12:5). Are we ready as a church to do the same?
Jesus sets the example of how we should pray. Paul says, “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17), which American theologian Albert Barnes elaborates as being “ . . . regular and constant in the observance of the stated seasons of prayer.”
This reminds me of a stanza from a simple hymn entitled, “Don’t Stop Praying, the Lord Is Nigh,”:
“Don't stop praying! The Lord is nigh;
Don't stop praying! He'll hear your cry;
God has promised, and He is true;
Don't stop praying; He'll answer you.”
(Edna Randolph Worrell)