Have you ever felt guilty for asking God to stop something terrible happening to you or someone you love, believing that not only should you persevere, but you should somehow enjoy it and seek it too? Perhaps it’s just me, but I have a bad habit of telling myself off for wishing that things might be easier, less painful, less serious, even while I know that a certain course of events is the right one. Jesus had a pretty good idea of what was coming as he prayed in the Garden, and as he asked 3 times for the cup to be taken away from him, I have no doubt that he meant it. ‘Yet not my will but yours’ is, naturally crucial here, but even so, this passage indicates to me that it is ok for us to be honest with God in prayer. It’s better than pretending with false humility or piety. I’m pretty sure God sees right through that. Ultimately, if our primary aim is to live lives which point people to Jesus, sometimes we have to do things which do not seem to be in our own self-interest, but are instead kingdom building (or as was the case here, kingdom-inaugurating). Jesus was willing to do this, for God and for his fellow humans, but his emotions and suffering were real, showing that our prayer lives can be places of open, honest dialogue, whilst remaining worshipful and humble.
Are we awake to hear the voice of the spirit as we pray? Are we alert, or are we counting down the minutes (or seconds) until we can get done with our prayer time and get on with the real business of the day? Prayer is the real business of the Christian life. Actions are important, but they are by-products of our individual and corporate times of intimacy with God. Have you got so busy, so cerebral, so active that you don’t have time to pray? Do something about it.