By Bishop L. Jonathan Holston
“They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ …And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed… ‘Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I will, but what you will.’”—Mark 14:32,35-36
By the time you read this message, we will likely be walking into Jerusalem. A group of more than 40 United Methodists from around South Carolina are making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Some have been ordained and are making the journey for the first time. Yet others have been here before and are eager to be back in the very places where Jesus walked.
One of the places that I always look forward to going is Gethsemane, where there is time for prayer in the garden, where we can pray while looking up at the gates of Jerusalem.
On one such pilgrimage, our group was joined by the miners that had been rescued during the 2010 Chilean mining accident. We were there beside these people of faith who had spent more than two months trapped underground, unsure of whether or not they would be rescued, yet remaining hopeful and steadfast. It moved me to know I was sharing space with people from so many different walks of life, who brought with them so many different causes for celebration or concern—to be in this place of prayer and this place of peace. This time and place where all the people are praying. The very place where Jesus prayed, not for his own will, but for God’s will to be done.
Why do I pray? I pray so that I might come to know God more intimately. God has created us to be in fellowship and community with Him. I long to know God. I want to be able to discern God’s voice, to hear God speak to me clearly even in the midst of so much other noise of this world. And so, I spend time listening and sharing with the One who called us into being.
What am I praying for? I am praying that God’s will might be made known to me. That God’s will is going to be done in the midst of all that we see and all that we do. And I am praying for the strength to persevere in doing God’s will and God’s work in mission and ministry. That’s what Jesus did.
Living a life of prayer leads to living a life at peace. At peace with yourself. At peace with the world. Moving out of the storm.
As we prepare for Easter, this is a time when we can step aside and reinforce a time of daily prayer. As we celebrate the crucifixion and resurrection of the one who has given us everything we need, we can make it a priority to live a life of prayer, actively seeking God’s will for our lives.
How will fellowship with God look for you? How will you seek God’s will? It is said that each of us are the composite of the five people we spend the most time with. Are these five in your life folks who are seeking God’s will? Are they hopeful and steadfast in their faith, spurring you on to a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ?
We need each other in this life of faith—in seeking a more excellent way to know God and make God known to others, and to encourage one another as we persevere in doing God’s will.