Scripture: 2 Corinthians 12.8-9
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you.
Between now and Easter, I’ll be sharing several posts from an excellent series Matt Tullos wrote a few years ago called 39 Words. Matt is a longtime friend and mentor in ministry and writing. I’m thrilled to be able to include a few of his writings for the benefit of our community. — John
Reflection: Pleading Prayer
By Matt Tullos
When we run out of pretty prayers and Sunday School answers, pleading is an intimate, ugly cry that dares to cast away its pride.
If it be your will,
If there is a choice,
Let the rivers fill.
Let the hills rejoice.
Let your mercy spill.
On all these burning hearts in hell
If it be your will
To make us well.
— Leonard Cohen
As He begins this final journey toward the cross, Jesus prays a haunting, surprising prayer: “If it be your will, let this cup pass from me.” This plea reveals both His humanity and divine nature.
He knows that life will close in on Him.
No turning back.
The world He came to save is now turning against Him. At this moment, one of His followers combs through the garden with a band of conspirators to capture Him. At the time of His greatest need, His dearest companions are comatose and negligent.
He is utterly alone and the weight of the harrowing pain-every kind of pain including isolation, torture, shame, nakedness, blood and farewells, would soon appear under the rays of the moon and the poor light of a covered sun.
We see Him in the garden, a different garden that served as the arena of the man’s fall, and He pleads, “If it be your will…”
Ultimately this cup is the cup of God’s fury. People often glibly use the phrase, “The wrath of God.” There is only One who experienced the wrath of God in its completeness, in it’s fearful symmetry, in a place where the constructs of evil converge into one horrible event.
This is the place where Jesus is kneeling—in the crosshairs of deep malevolence and holy, blood-soaked redemption. And Jesus knows this. He knows this well.
When we plead, we come to the end of ourselves and stumble toward the One who loves us. Beggars are never rejected at the footstool of the Almighty.
Pleading is messy prayer. It’s when we can do nothing else but beg. Are you a beggar today, pleading for God’s attention?
Are you so hungry that you’d be satisfied with the crumbs of the Divine?
Prayer: The Cry of the Church
O God, come to my assistance! O Lord, make haste to help me.
– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.