Praying with Jesus beneath the Olive Trees of Gethsemane

Nov 14, 2023 | PRAY, READ, World Watch

Like millions before and since, I have visited the olive trees of Gethsemane, a place made holy by the intensity of Jesus’s suffering as He watched and prayed there on the eve of His passion. Almost all of us who are reading this are those whom the Scriptures designate as ‘wild olive shoots’ who have been grafted into the Lord’s own olive tree. (Rom. 11:17) It is with considerable reverence then, that my thoughts turn to the south and west of this garden in the city where Jesus wept, to Gaza. It is there, as in Ramah, that great laments are being heard, as many ‘Rachels’ are ‘weeping for their children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.’ (Matt 2:18)

The following prayer is a cry of the heart rising out of a deep sense of identification with those who are in grief and trouble. Perhaps the Lord would have you take it up to apply not just in Gaza, but elsewhere too, on behalf of other peoples who are suffering. Many of you, I know, are stirred to pray by the continuing Russian raids and bombardments in Ukraine, and by the plight of the hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian women and children who have been forcibly removed to Russia.

Others of you will grieve over the appalling ethnic cleansing the government of Myanmar has for so long been inflicting on various tribes. Perhaps He will turn your eyes toward the horrifying violence of civil wars in places such as Sudan and Yemen, or to countries such as Afghanistan and Nepal, which are suffering in the aftermath of terrible earthquakes. Maybe He will have you look over the horizon, and pray protection for Taiwan and the nations of the South China Sea, which currently remain in a state of fear of tensions escalating with their much larger neighbour.

May we pray such prayers as are heard in Heaven.

Then, without warning, a furious storm arose on the lake, so that waves were sweeping over the boat. But Yeshua was sleeping . . . Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and there was a dead calm. (Matt. 8:24,26 CJB)

Lord, we did not see this storm arriving,
and we could not keep it out.
It swept down upon us like a thief in the night –
and now the world is seething and our hearts are writhing.
Many are weary from crying out for peace and justice
with no answer appearing to come from Heaven.

Do not pass us by, Lord Jesus, but visit us again,
that many may hear You saying, ‘It is I do, not fear!’
Imprint an oasis of calm in the midst of these destructive winds
and these heaving, tossing waves and breakers.

Grant release to noise deafened ears and soul deadened hearts,
that many may hear Your still small voice within,
whether for the first or the manyeth time,
and sense Your crucial, clear directions.
“O Lord, save Thy people, and bless Thine inheritance.

Give peace in our time, O Lord.
Because there is none other that fighteth for us, but only Thou O God.”
Since only You can fully share in our suffering,
‘make clean our hearts within us
and take not Thy Holy Spirit from us.’ [1]

By Your touch, minister to the utterly confused,
to those broken in heart and body,
the sick who wait for urgent medical supplies,
and those who have no place to go.
Deliver families from danger and disarray,
and children from fears that that bind and paralyse the soul;
deliver young men from violence and false arrests,
and young women from rape and assault.
Deliver the elderly and lonely from fear and terror of the night,
and the missiles that fly by day. (cf Ps. 91:5)

Our Father in Heaven, do not bring us to the time of trial
but deliver us from evil.

Jesus, Your work on Earth was very hard and tiring,
and so it remains to this day,
for hearts are proud and stubborn;
and Herod rules the roost while Judas stalks the streets.

Be with us, Adonai,
for You have been our dwelling place
throughout all generations.
Before this world came into being
and the mountains were born
You were and are the God of strength,
from everlasting to everlasting.
and You will not leave us alone.

Jesus, console us in our mourning,
and comfort in our affliction and distress,
for You are Emmanuel, the God who walks with us,
even as You fulfil Your far-reaching purposes
for the destiny of nations.

And even though our sins cry out against us,
and our backsliding rebukes us,
You are the One who delights in showing mercy,
as we cry to You to guide and heal us. (Jer. 2:19)

Our vessel is frail, and our journey dangerous,
but You will pilot our ship to safety,
and grant strength to body, mind and legs.
You stretched out Your hand to keep Simon Peter from being drowned,
and You are able to rescue many from these surging, swirling waters.

On every side, at every moment,
the most horrible things are happening:
but You are able to deliver us from evil,
so that souls need not succumb
to monsters of dark despair and befouling hatred.

Heal the sick and raise the dead, Lord,
and give us to drink of Your living water.
Even in the midst of these chaotic seas,
we worship at Your feet,
for Heaven is Your throne and Earth Your footstool,
and as we worship, rise up in power!

Keep our hearts from being inflamed with wild and dangerous passions –
especially the rage that fuels a spirit not Your own.
Let them be instead a temple wherein You dwell,
fountains fed by Your fount of hope and life.

Father of Light,
You who saw Your own Son crushed in agony
beneath the olive trees of Gethsemane,
speak from out of the storm.

Jesus, Your Kingdom is ours through our patient endurance in You.
You who are our brother and companion in our suffering,
speak from out of the storm. (Rev. 1:9)

Spirit of God, who hovers over the Earth
and knows and sees it all,
shield us from all harm,
so that we might sparkle in the land like jewels in a crown,
and be as living torches for Christ,
children of God who shine like stars in the firmament
and hold out the word of life to a warped and crooked generation.

Amen.

(Phil. 2:15; Rev. 1:9; Zech. 9:1,14,16; Job 38:1)

See also The Romero Prayer

[1] From the standard morning prayer in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer.

Photo by Don Fontijn on Unsplash

 

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