Hello, all. My goodness, it’s been so long since I’ve written here, but it feels so wonderful to be back. Below are some of my thoughts (the fruit of mediation and prayer) on the power and beauty of persistence in prayer:
For so many of us, we are familiar with the Scripture passage about the Agony in the Garden. This is moment of deep emotional anguish for Jesus as He prays to the Heavenly Father to either remove from Him the “bitter cup” that is His Passion, or grant Him the strength He needs to fulfill His purpose. The disciples have succumbed to their humanity; they are asleep at the edge of the Garden, exhausted and sorrowful. Jesus prays to the Father with one of the most powerful petitions in Scripture:
“My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:39
I have spent numerous hours praying over these words, and I love their raw honesty that convey Jesus’ hurting. But, the words themselves are not what struck me in prayer this past week. What cut me to the heart was the fact that Jesus returns not once, not twice, but three times to the depths of the Garden to pray, and that He prays these words not once, not twice, but three times before He returns to the disciples.
Jesus, our Lord and Savior, begged God for mercy and strength three times. He returned again, and again to prayer to continue His petition, unafraid to continue asking. Jesus, our role model for prayer, is unafraid to continue asking, unashamed to persistently lay His petitions before the Father. We, too, are called to be unafraid of asking again; God acknowledges the power and beauty in our persistence of asking and responds accordingly. Throughout the past few weeks, while facing some difficult battles, I have returned to the Father, begging for strength over and over, and He has either removed the obstacle, or granted me the grace and strength to persevere.
It is not just Jesus who models this persistence in asking, this persistence in hope despite ongoing difficulty. Two other examples from the Gospel come to mind: first, the Canaanite woman (Matthew 15:21-28), who follows Jesus and His disciples, begging again and again that they heal her daughter; and second, the healing of an ill man, who had been lying in the temple, waiting to be healing for 38 years (John 5:2-9). Although the ill man didn’t verbally ask the Lord for healing, he tells Jesus how he approached the healing pool every day, in hopes of being healed, but was never made well. Jesus heals both the woman’s daughter and the ill man because both persistently asked (or persistently made their way to the water), unashamed to continue asking for the grace they were seeking.