Recently I’ve been reading through the Gospel of Luke. Numerous passages throughout that vividly descriptive book gripped me. But none commanded my attention more than these nine words about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane: “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly.” (Luke 22:44)
Many times, being in agony has caused me to pray more earnestly. Trials seem to have a way of forcing us to seek God more fervently. Uncomfortable situations push us toward the “God of all comfort.” (2 Corinthians 1:3) How many times in the book of Psalms does David – and the other psalmists – cry out to God for rescue and help? That’s an ongoing theme.
When “life is good” we tend to forget about God. He can become just an afterthought. We’re glad that He has us on a path toward heaven, but that’s not our usual focus.
And then crisis hits. Life gets turned upside down. Our equilibrium is thrown out of kilter. Circumstances are upended, and we’re in a disoriented freefall through darkness.
But what happens next? Being in agony, we pray more earnestly. Suddenly we have proper orientation again. Our compass gets set on true North. We may still be stumbling through a dark tunnel, but we know the right direction. Our face is set in a Godward direction.
The truth is that this pattern can be seen over and over again throughout the Bible – and throughout our lives. It’s as predictable as the changing seasons. Times of ease followed by difficulties followed by seeking God followed by times of ease. You and I have both experienced this repeatedly.
Of course, Luke 22:44 is referring to Jesus. He certainly never had a lackadaisical relationship with His Father. At the same time, the trial – the agony – apparently caused Him to kick it up a notch. “Being in agony he prayed more earnestly.” How much more should that be true for you and me?
I fly to most of the places where I minister. People often ask me, “Do you enjoy flying?” My answer to that question has been pretty consistent over the years: “Flying gets me to where I need to be, quickly.” That’s what difficulties in life often do: They get us to where we really need to be, quickly.
So, why are we so concerned about difficulties? When you’re in agony, pray more earnestly.