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Sweet Hour of Prayer

Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Matthew 26:38 NIV

Jesus had shared the last meal with his closest friends, washed their feet, and then they departed. Judas Iscariot off to betray him, but the others went with Jesus to Gethsemane. Taking Peter, James, and John with him, Jesus goes off a short way to pray, as was his habit.

We can appreciate Jesus' grief. Being fully human, he was filled with angst about what was to come, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (v. 39). Because he was wholly divine does not mean he was looking forward to death. He knew what was to occur, but the human part was troubled. But, perhaps there is another reason for his sorrow. He was grieving for those he had not yet heard the message of salvation and those who had heard and rejected. Whatever the reasons, in prayer, he found the strength he required, "Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” (v. 46)

The story here is not about disciples falling asleep but the power of prayer. In times of sorrow, like Jesus, we can find courage, strength, and comfort in talking with our Father. While our family, friends, and professionals can listen and give council, only God can calm the disquiet of our spirits. The hymn "Sweet Hour of Prayer" by William Walford beautifully captures this thought.

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!

That calls me from a world of care,

And bids me at my Father’s throne

Make all my wants and wishes known.

In seasons of distress and grief,

My soul has often found relief,

And oft escaped the tempter’s snare,

By thy return, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!

The joys I feel, the bliss I share,

Of those whose anxious spirits burn

With strong desires for thy return!

With such I hasten to the place

Where God my Savior shows His face,

And gladly take my station there,

And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!

Thy wings shall my petition bear

To Him whose truth and faithfulness

Engage the waiting soul to bless.

And since He bids me seek His face,

Believe His Word and trust His grace,

I’ll cast on Him my every care,

And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!

May I thy consolation share,

Till, from Mount Pisgah’s lofty height,

I view my home and take my flight.

This robe of flesh I’ll drop, and rise

To seize the everlasting prize,

And shout, while passing through the air,

“Farewell, farewell, sweet hour of prayer!”

Holy Father, thank you for the peace and consolation found in the sweet hour of prayer. Thank you for listening to our petitions and answering with love and compassion, giving us the spiritual calm we seek. Thank you for your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior, and the Holy Spirit, our Advocate. Amen.


Pastor Tim

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