A Prayer for Times of Trouble

Scripture Focus: Proverbs 24:10-12
10 If you falter in a time of trouble,
     how small is your strength!
 11 Rescue those being led away to death;
     hold back those staggering toward slaughter.
 12 If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,”
     does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
 Does not he who guards your life know it?
     Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?

Mark 14:38
38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Reflection: A Prayer for Times of Trouble
By Erin Newton

In the twilight hours before the cross, Jesus slipped into the garden to commune with the Father. His words spilled out into the world, “Abba, let this cup pass.” It was an hour of great need. The time of trouble was upon him. The great Creator of the world was hours away from death, minutes away from betrayal. Would he falter? Would he back away now?

He leaned down toward his friends and told them to watch and pray. He continues to call us to watch and pray:

Dear Lord, within the garden, give us the strength to endure the night.

         The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Your word declares wisdom as the source of our strength. Wisdom builds houses and guides us to victory. But we falter in times of trouble. Our faith is indeed small. Give to us strength through wisdom—not the power of our hands but the understanding of our hearts.

         The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Open our eyes to those who are perishing around us. Blind us from our own ambitions and comforts. Crucify the desires that serve only ourselves. Let us not slumber as you plead for the souls of this world.

         The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

For we can never truly say we did not know. You pointed to the harvest and told us it was ready. You told us to look after even the least of these. You gave the care of your mother to your beloved friend. We are all now your beloved friends.

         The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Lord, there is no corner of our hearts to which you are blind. All our motives, all our ambitions, all our desires are laid bare before your watchful eye. You who hold our lives now send us out into the dying world.

Your spirit was willing, and you were never weak. You rescued us as we staggered toward death. You knew the price that had to be paid. Grant us the strength of a crucified life that only comes through wisdom.

After Jesus prayed, the kiss of betrayal was laid upon his cheek. He was led from trial to torture to death with full acceptance that the cup would not pass. This is our example of wisdom. This is our example of not faltering in times of trouble.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
Early in the morning I cry to you, for in your word is my trust. — Psalm 119.147

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

​Today’s Readings
Proverbs 24 (Listen 3:47)
Mark 14 (Listen 8:37)

Read more about Baring Your Soul
Jesus modeled this in his darkest moments in Gethsemane. “Take this cup away” is balanced with a trust in God’s will.

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The Prince of Peace not Pacification

Scripture Focus: Proverbs 24.1-2
Do not envy the wicked,
    do not desire their company;
for their hearts plot violence,
    and their lips talk about making trouble.

Matthew 21.4-5
This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
“Say to Daughter Zion,
    ‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
    and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

*This week will follow the events of Holy Week in our reflections, tying them, where applicable to our daily readings.

Reflection:  The Prince of Peace not Pacification
By John Tillman

After the triumph of Jesus entering Jerusalem, Monday, might seem anti-climactic to some of his followers. 

During the triumphal entry, the more politically motivated and “patriotic” of Christ’s disciples must have sensed a growing momentum against the elitist immoral government. The palm branches they waved were symbols of the failed Maccabean rebellion and an expression of nationalistic, patriotic pride. Christ went out of his way to arrive in a manner that both fit this paradigm and shatter it at the same time. Riding into the city on a colt referenced a well-known Messianic prophecy and identified Jesus as the promised Messianic King. Many would also react with glee when he cleansed the temple, just as we would if authorities took down a price-gouging opportunist selling hand-sanitizer.

But on Monday all that energy seems to fizzle out. Jesus does not march on the palaces of the rich. He does not pull down and replace corrupt leaders or cast off Roman oppression. Things do not go the way people expected. In the Old Testament stories they were used to, when the king purified the temple, what followed was the defeat of Israel’s enemies and a period of political victory and peace.

Jesus, instead, remains consistent in representing the kind of kingdom he has been describing and demonstrating all along. The revolution Jesus enacts is a spiritual one and is greater than any temporal imaginings of the crowds or his more revolutionary-minded followers.

The revolution Jesus begins will defeat the enemy of Sin—a far more dangerous enemy than Rome. 
The revolution Jesus begins will win a victory over death, not over human leaders who are destined to die anyway. 
The revolution Jesus begins will bring to us eternal peace with God, not broker meaningless earthly “peace.” 

The earthly definition of peace that we are used to is disingenuous. Like the ironically named “Ministry of Peace” in George Orwell’s 1984, we don’t want peace—we want to win wars. We want “Peace in our time” and on our terms. Many times we, like the Jerusalem crowds, might prefer a Prince of Pacification instead of a Prince of Peace.

As we anticipate Jesus’ arrival to our Jerusalem and as we follow him may we avoid the disillusionment that plagued Judas and other politically motivated disciples. Let us see Jesus as the Prince of Peace he truly is letting go of any dreams of earthly power.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Deliverance belongs to the Lord. Your blessing be upon your people! — Psalm 3.8

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Proverbs 24 (Listen 3:47) 
1 Thessalonians 3 (Listen -1:44)

Read more about Following Through Jerusalem
In our social media, drama-driven world, we often long for someone to silence our critics and win our battles. We equate winning arguments with advancing the kingdom.

Read more about Tobiahs and Little Foxes
In a pre-visualization of Christ’s cleansing of the Temple, Nehemiah has to literally throw out the old baggage of the past (Tobiah and his belongings)