Praying Before

Agony in the Garden by James Tissot

After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed….John 17: 1

John 17 captures the night before for Jesus.

The next day would bring his arrest and subsequent crucifixion. Because He was fully divine and fully human, He knew what He was facing:  harsh judgment, abuse, condemnation, and horrifically painful death.

When you and I have a challenge coming, how do we prepare? Reward ourselves with a good meal or a pedicure? Maybe some shopping therapy? Indulge in a chick flick with a big bowl of popcorn?

Jesus could have hung with his friends … perhaps gone fishing or reminisced around the campfire, “Remember that time we fed 5000 with a kid’s lunch? … Dude, how about that blind Bart that got to see?” 

Jesus did not spend His night before relaxing, hanging with his buddies, or pampering Himself. He spent the night before doing the very best thing to prepare for the next day: He prayed.

Unlike Jesus, you and I are not divine, so we never know when today will be our own night before. We never know when our challenge will come, but we know it will.  We know trouble will find us. Jesus gave us this heads up:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble.”
John 16: 33a (NIV)

Note that Jesus doesn’t say we might have trouble. He doesn’t say trouble is a possibility. He says, “You will have trouble.” So if it’s coming, we are wise to prepare.

When the tornado sirens go off, we head to the basement.

We make freezer meals before the baby (and sleepless nights) arrive.

When the road sign pictures a sharp curve ahead, we slow down.

We nail up the shutters if the weather man says a hurricane is rolling in.

When the property tax bill comes, we start setting money aside to pay it.

Trouble will come, but we can have peace in the midst of it. It almost sounds – and feels – like an oxymoron, but it is true. It is possible. It comes by being “prayed up.”

We prepare for the unidentified-trouble-we-know-is-coming by PRAYING. 

Take some time to read John 17. These 26 verses record the prayer of our Lord to His heavenly father. His prayer was for Himself, His disciples, and for all believers – that includes you and me! How extraordinary to know our Lord prayed for us the night before He sacrificed Himself for us.

Look closely at the prayer for Himself. He prayed for God to be glorified through the difficulty. He didn’t ask God to make it bearable or for death to come quickly. He leaned into the suffering because He wanted to fulfill His divine calling to glorify God.

You and I were created for the same purpose: to glorify God. And perhaps our suffering offers the greatest opportunity to fulfill that purpose.

The world shrugs with indifference when the healthy, wealthy, seemingly-blessed believer praises God. But when we praise Him in the pain – during serious illness, loss of a loved one, a prodigal child, divorce, a layoff, bankruptcy, or any other hard thing – the world takes note. They are curious, intrigued, and perhaps amazed enough to ask, Why? – and that is our opportunity to share a gospel story. An opportunity to bring glory to our great God who can use all things for our good and FOR HIS GLORY.

The last part of John 16: 33 encourages us:

“But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  John 16: 33b (NIV)

Bottom line:

  1. Trouble will come.
  2. Peace is possible even in times of trouble.
  3. We get ready for trouble by being “prayed up.”
  4. We can overcome because He overcame!

The world shrugs with indifference when the healthy, wealthy, seemingly-blessed believer praises God. But when we praise Him in the pain – during serious illness, loss of a loved one, divorce, bankruptcy – the world takes note.

Women of God, are you ready to start taking prayer seriously? Are you ready to woman up and get down on your knees?

Laura Macfarlan

Besides her Cross My Heart Ministry, Laura also writes for A Reason for Home School. This devotion is a repost from A Reason for Homeschool.