FROM THE DESK OF THE PATRIARCH AND PRESIDING PRELATE
By: Patriarch Sir Dr. Godfrey Gregg
Some time ago I was reading the book of St. Mark chapter 14, I found myself stuck at the encounter between Jesus and His disciples at Gethsemane.
You probably can recall the scene. Following their meal (last supper) in the Upper Room, Jesus leads some of His disciples away to the Mount of Olives. Repeatedly Jesus warns them to stay up and pray. Instead, they all fall asleep and shortly afterwards end up deserting Him. I don’t think that this is a coincidence.
We find over and over again in the Bible that when Jesus says something, there is a good reason for it. So why did Jesus ask the disciples to deny their bodies of sleep and instead pray? He knew that the next twenty-four hours were going to be chaotic- not only for Himself but for His followers. Yet for some reason, Jesus still asked them to forgo the sleep that would have rejuvenated their bodies. I honestly believe that Jesus asked them to do this because He knew the truth that a rested body is of little use to us if our spirit is disconnected from God.
Had the disciples spent those precious moments in prayer maybe they would have had a much different perspective when they saw Jesus on the cross. Maybe they would have never run away in the first place. Maybe some of them would have even boldly preached in the time between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Maybe the story might have looked much different.
But we can never know for sure what difference the disciple’s prayers would have made. We can know, however, that there would have been a difference. Prayer doesn’t always necessarily change circumstances, but it does have the potential to change us and it has in many instances.
We, like the disciples, have the opportunity to be strengthened and changed through prayer. I think though, that too often we participate in our own version of sleep and ignore spending time connecting with our Heavenly Father. As a result, I am convinced that we miss out on a lot of connections with our inner self and the Holy Spirit. Remember it is the only way that our soul and spirit can connect with the spirit world.
I often minister why we pray and it is the only time the devil is at war with the believer because there is a connection with the Father through prayer. The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray.
The reason Satan fears prayer is that their very connection with God changes everything. It can turn a trembling believer into a bold disciple. It can strengthen the weak and heal the sick. It can open some doors and shut others. It gives us grace and it feeds us life. It can change and transform. It can redeem and restore. It can make a difference, and yes it has on most occasions when we fully commit to the Father.
Hebrews 4:16 says: “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it.” In reality, we never know when we will need grace throughout our days, which leads me to believe that we always need to be prepared in prayer. Yes, we have to be praying for souls at all times because of the hour.
Besides, prayer is one of the few methods of communication we have with our Heavenly Father, so doesn’t it just make sense to take advantage of that? To seek God throughout our day and build a relationship through both the quiet moments and chaotic times. To build a lifestyle that allows us to truly “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
This is not to mean that we quit our jobs and spend hours a day on our knees, but rather, that we bring God with us wherever we go and allow Him to make our life a prayer. Whether that’s in the workplace, at school, in our homes, in church or in our thoughts and actions. And as a result, powerful things will happen because prayer does make a difference.