Great God, our Father:
As we call to mind the scene of Christ’s suffering in Gethsemane,
our hearts are filled with penitence and shame
that we foolishly waste our time in idleness
and that we make no progress in the Christian life day to day. . .
We are ashamed that war and lust flourish and grow more rampant every day.
Forgive us for our cruel indifference to the Cross,
and pardon us that, like the bystanders of old,
we merely stand and gaze in idle curiosity
upon the pitious scene.
O teach us, we beseech thee, the good news of thy forgiveness.
Cause humanity, degenerate as it is, to live anew,
and hasten the day when the whole world shall be born anew.
Toyohiko Kagawa, 1888-1960 Japanese Christian pacifist, reformer, and labour activist
Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane,
and he said to them,
“Sit here while I go over there and pray.”
He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him,
and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.
Then he said to them,
“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.
Stay here and keep watch with me.”
Whether it comes from betrayal, neglect, abandonment, or from a broken bone or failing health – the result is some kind of emotional or physical pain. When I look back on my life, I remember the physical tension of my aching body or the chest-tightening ache that came from a broken heart. My greatest hope in times of pain is that you will bring me healing. Thank you that I never have to worry you haven’t noticed my pain. How compassionate you are to comfort me in my hurts. On the other hand, there are times when I hurt so badly that I forget about you, Jesus. I become completely focused on how to stop the pain. But you never abandon me. When I feel alone in my hurt, it is often because I am concentrating so much on easing the pain of my problems that I have forgotten you have promised to help me in my difficulties. Thank you that you never leave me. I find comfort in your promise to be with me and give me hope and purpose in the midst of my aching body and soul.
Ron A. Beers
And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved.
O Savior of the world, teach us how to pray for those who are lost
in desolations of darkness
without knowledge of the mercy that is yourself.
We remember the innocent victims of war
and all the agony they suffer,
those who are greatly afraid,
those who have been overwhelmed by torment of mind or body.
Save us from the cowardice that would turn us away
from the thought of these things,
from the indifference that would pass them by.
Give us penitence for the evil in ourselves
which has added to the darkness of the world,
and if there be any small thing we can do to lighten any misery,
show us what it is and help us to do it.
Teach us how to pray with the compassion that is not afraid to suffer
with those who suffer
and if need be,
to enter darkness with them.
O Everlasting Mercy, who once in time came from the height of heaven
down to the depth of our need,
come again in power to forgive us and renew us and set us on fire,
that through the labors and prayers of broken-hearted sinners
your mercy may banish the darkness and bring new life upon the earth.
Elizabeth Goudge, 1900-1984, English novelist
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them,
because they were harassed and helpless,
like sheep without a shepherd.
Then he said to his disciples,
“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;
therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest
to send out laborers into his harvest.”