Daily Office Readings for Monday of Proper 11: Year 2
“And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.’ Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, ‘So, could you not stay awake with me one hour?” (Matthew 26: 39 – 40)
I often write about how regularly Jesus prays. In this case he prays for one hour. The selected three, Peter, John and James, whom he handpicked could not hang on, they fell asleep. Peter John and James were picked on other occasions to accompany Jesus as well, like the Transfiguration and to heal a twelve year old sick girl. So they were special. They were fishermen. They were followers, believers, disciples, and in their end, they were martyrs, except for maybe John. But they were also mortals.
We too are mortals like Peter, John and James. We fall short. We often don’t have the endurance required to stay awake while Jesus prays. I have been on weekend retreats where some of us are supposed to be praying for a colleague while that colleague is giving a talk. Sometimes, when we returned to the praying person and open the door to the chapel we hear him or her say, “Amen.” I heard one bishop explain using doubtful language, indicating he thought the person who was supposed to be praying was really asleep.
It happens. We are frail creatures. Praying, like any other intentional habit, is a discipline. It requires regular intentionality. Even when we don’t “feel” like it, we must keep the regular expectation of prayer. God gets used to our patterns. And, Jesus expects to hear us with daily regularity to at least attempt to pray at the times we’ve selected, even if we fall asleep. Our Lord Jesus still kept his three amigos as appointed Saints of the Church even though they fell asleep. The same goes for you and me. This prayer cup responsibility does not pass from us. God’s will, not ours, be done.
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to and through the saints of God and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do. John