Luke 22:41-42And he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, "Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done."
Beginning and ending with prayer... It sounds like such a simple thing, but so often it is forgotten. And when it is not forgotten, it seems misunderstood. Why do we begin with prayer? and Why do we end with prayer? In part we are called to prayer by the command of God, for God says, Pray without ceasing. Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver you. And then again, there is the 2nd commandment, Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. Since God has through Baptism given us his name, calling us the children of God, and sharing with us the name of His Son our Savior, to not call upon Godís name, is in a very real sense to take it in vain. And if Godís command were not enough, we have Godís promise that he will hear and answer every proper prayer. Prayer then is something more than talking out loud, or daydreaming, prayer is conversation with God.
Why do we begin with prayer? Quite simply, we begin with prayer, confident that God has a plan for our life, God has a purpose for each day, and each hour. Godís plan for our life, is not just for our own God, but for the good of the world, for we know that Godís will is that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, and we know that God has told us to pray for workers in the harvest, for there is much work to be done. We know that God would work through us, so the 1st reason to begin with prayer, is that we may not be an obstacle to Godís kingdom. But its not enough, to not be an obstacle, yet it is frightening to think that God could and would work through us, what if we say the wrong thing, what if we do the wrong thing? So if we begin with prayer, not only are we asking Godís kingdom to come to us and through us, we are asking for the words, the grace and the strength that we may take our place, and do that which God has called us to do.
The wonderful thing about beginning with prayer, it that at least then we have a confidence that we are in the right place, doing the right thing, and that God is with us. I mention this, because many do not begin with prayer, after all God is busy. So many only turn to God in the day of trouble, when things have gotten out of control. Its frustrating when things are out of control, in part because we donít know how it got that way, and in part because we donít know how to set things right, the worst thing is, that when things are out of control we donít even know if we are if we are supposed to be where we are, or to be doing what we are doing. We feel about as powerful as the leaf that the wind blows from place to place, and we donít know why. As I said, when we begin with prayer, we have a confidence that we are in the right place, doing the right thing, and that God is with us.
Sometimes, even though we begin with prayer, we may find ourselves facing temptation, or evil, and that can be frightening. Perhaps thatís why so many have found the 23rd Psalm so comforting, "The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures, he leadeth me beside gentle waters. He resoreth my soul. He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me..."
When the Lord leads us, and the Lord is with us, and we remember that he is the Almighty, that he is Lord of All. . . In the 1st place its not likely that weíll want to let go of his hand, nor wander from the path he has prepared. With the Lord leading us, we can even face the face of the shadow of death. And this is what we see of Jesus, throughout his suffering, even to his death.
Which brings us to the end, and we see that that is how it ends, with prayer. And we see, in Jesus suffering and death, more than something that begins with prayer and ends with prayer, but we see what it truly is to pray without ceasing. And so my prayer of you is that you might always walk with God, be filled with every grace and blessing, and be a blessing to all nations, by pointing them to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins... for Jesus sake.