Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Commentary on "One Hour"

In emailing with a young pastor I know, Dustin Parker-Fahey, he consented to allowing me to post his words and research on this subject.  As you'll see, I was a bit worried about this particular posting:

Ok, I have read it a couple times now.

I like it. It speaks to me personally. I'm always struggling with my attention span and trying to 'stay up with the Lord.' Just this morning I was trying to pray and the ADD was kicking in and my mind was going every where. The discipline of controlling our minds...its a daunting and difficult task at times.

On a critical side, I'm always about context of a passage. You know that because I'm always going on about it. :) I would say that you are 'spot on' in saying that it applies to the church of today as it did to the disciples back then. Frequently when the Bible refers to the disciples, it is referring to us as well, not just the specific ones with him.

Here's a little excerpt from one of my favorite commentaries:
Only devotion to prayer can carry us through the hardest times. Our best intentions (26:33, 35) cannot protect us in the time of severest testing unless we have learned how to seek God in prayer (v. 41). The three disciples worthy of special censure here (vv. 37, 40) are the three who had witnessed Jesus' glory on the mountain (17:1), including the disciple most adamant about his faithfulness (26:35). Spirit (v. 41) refers to the purpose of the human spirit versus the weakness of mortal humanity (in contrast to Paul's usual contrast between God's Spirit and human flesh). Jesus had already warned his disciples to pray lest they succumb to the test, a warning applicable to all disciples (6:13); his admonitions to watch likewise apply to all disciples in all eras. The lesson of Gethsemane is thus for all generations.

The disciples' failure reminds us that they were people of flesh and blood just like us, not superspiritual people whom God would use because they had earned his favor. Even the big meal should not have put them to sleep so quickly; it was customary to discuss God's redemptive acts for a few hours after the meal before singing the Hallel. Some Jewish tradition suggested that those who fell asleep to the point they could not even answer thereby dissolved their Passover group--which the disciples inexplicably did by the time Jesus had finished praying. Jesus did not regularly hold "all-night prayer" as a mark of being spiritual, but he did expect the disciples to take seriously his need in this emergency situation. If staying awake on this one night was a test, the disciples failed it. Peter undoubtedly comes in for special rebuke (v. 40) because he had most vehemently pledged his faithfulness till death (v. 33).

God's call may lead through unbearable pain. If this was the case with Jesus (vv. 37-39, 42, 44), his servants should expect no less (10:24-25). By describing his sorrow as to the point of death (26:38), Jesus underlines the intensity of his grief: of itself the grief could kill him.

When we are in such pain, we need the strength of others' presence. Jesus' disciples provide a stark contrast in this narrative, a foil that reveals our Lord's own sacrifice all the more powerfully. Some popular authors and speakers emphasize "being positive" in all circumstances without exception, but despite the importance of a cheerful disposition (Prov 15:13, 15; 17:27; 18:14) and the normalcy of Christian joy (Gal 5:22; Phil 4:4; 1 Thess 5:16), in the psalms God's servants also repeatedly pour out broken hearts to him (for example, Ps 39:10-13; 40:13-17; 89:46-51). Jesus does not complain, but he does ask for support in prayer, and finds strength for his mission in God alone. The world and the church around us are full of suffering; they will hear God's heart for them best if we share their suffering in prayer (Mt 26:38-41) rather than if we dismiss genuine pain with platitudes about "being positive."


How often do we ask the Lord for things? Frequently. Daily. Hourly. Maybe more often. Jesus was going through one of the hardest times in his life/ministry and all he wanted from his disciples, his friends, his closest companions was that they would take part in this vigil with him. To think about it on a somewhat on a more modern sense, it would be like if my pastor came to me, or someone very spiritually important to me (none equal Jesus I know, but just go along with this for a second) and told me that they were going through the hardest thing they had ever faced before and they needed prayer. Wouldn't someone be honored to be asked that? Wouldn't you make sure you prayed your heart out?

At least, at first you would. You'd be fervent and full of fire as you prayed on you pastor's/friend's behalf. But how long would it last? 10 minutes? 20 minutes? Maybe 30?

The Lord has given us all so much. Grace and mercy, unconditional love, freedom, eternal life, blessings; each of us have received spiritual gifts and blessings. The magnitude of what the Lord gives us is almost unfathomable for the human mind. Were we to start thanking the Lord for what He gave us at the beginning of the day, in our first breath as our eyes opened, already the count leaps into action. You woke up, His mercy is refreshed daily, you can see, you can hear, you have a roof over your head-the count goes on and on.

Yet when it comes to spending time with the Lord, especially in silence, we 'don't have time' or 'cant focus' so we don't try any longer. But the Lord "delights in every details of our lives" (Psalm 23b). He wants to spend time with us. He is Jealous for us, and doesn't want to be pushed to the back of our priority list. And when we take the time to just sit down, 'be still, and know that He is God," we will be amazed by what can occur. Talking to God, praying, its like a conversation. It shouldn't just be us talking at God. It should be a two-way street. But we have to listen hard for God's voice and at times that's when our minds go off on adventures of their own, or they get tired and drowsy.

ANYWAY. LOL I think what you wrote was good. Short and sweet and to the point. When the Lord asks to spend time with you...do you? Do you give Him all of your attention? Do you let Him respond to you or do you do all the talking?

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