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Praying through dark times


In dark and troubling times, how do we respond? Do we remember to pray, and if so, how do we lift our cares and concerns in a God-honoring way?

In Mark 14 Jesus knows the cross is looming ever closer. It is Thursday evening, and he will be hanging on a cross the following day.

Arriving at Gethsemane, he becomes distressed. In verse 34 he says to Peter, James and John, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death.” How unsettling it must have been for these men to experience their leader in such an emotional state. Jesus asks them to watch, moves a short distance away and then through “loud crying and tears” (Hebrews 5:7), he prays.

Through this prayer, he teaches us how to pray through the dark times.

First, we learn it is appropriate to be honest with God. In verse 36 Jesus prays, “All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me.” He understands the pain, abuse and separation from God that awaits.

If the valley seems unfair, vocalize that to God. If the pain seems to be too much, say so out loud. There is nothing we can bring before God that will surprise him, shock him or cause him to love us any less.

Second, Jesus shows us that honesty with God must be accompanied by a willingness to yield to him. Mark 14:36, “All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.”

Why do we struggle with yielding to God? Is it difficult to yield because we are concerned God might not know what is best or that he might somehow make a mistake in answering? Remembering Jesus should remind us that God has a clarity of vision that we lack. He can see the big picture. When I yield, I am acknowledging that God can take any situation and work to accomplish his purpose.

Finally, from Jesus we see a commitment to obedience no matter the cost. His prayer seems to have provided the mental reset he needed to face the hours ahead. As the arresting party arrives, he is resolved to follow through and face the agony that awaits him, as noted in Mark 14:42.

All of us will face dark times and valleys. No matter when the dark times come, will we remember to pray like Jesus did?


Philip Goad has been serving as the minister at North Highlands Church of Christ in Russellville since March 2020.