By Matt Hein
A few nights ago I woke to the sound of a crying child. It was 2:15 a.m. and I was sound asleep, weary from the previous day. I walked down the hallway to our youngest child’s room where he was calling out for mommy and daddy. He was upset about something. He was sorrowful and in anguish.
I opened the bedroom door and my son told me he was scared and sad. Perhaps he was having a bad dream or woke up in a strange position. Whatever the reason, he was upset and we sat together on the rocking chair where he kept on crying softly.
Half awake, I grasped for something that might calm him down but nothing worked. I’m not exactly sure what triggered it, but suddenly I remembered visiting Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane in worship on Sunday as Pastor Rossow took us into that place of prayer (Luke 22:39-43).
Luke wrote that the disciples were asleep in the garden, weary from sorrow. While they slumbered, Jesus remained awake in prayer. He was in anguish as he wrestled with the Father’s will and the road to the cross, so much so that his sweat was like drops of blood. He prayed for God’s will to be done.
I remember Pastor Rossow pointing out how little is recorded of Jesus’ prayer or the garden scene at all. But he made one thing clear. While the disciples slept in weakness, Jesus prayed in strength.
While the disciples slept in weakness, Jesus prayed in strength.
Jesus turned the Garden of Gethsemane, which was a place of weakness for disciples, into a place of His strength and love.
Neither my son nor I were sleeping as I rocked him the other night, but we were both weary. My son was sorrowful and in anguish over something. I didn’t know what else to do, so I told him what I remembered about the story of Gethsemane and the sermon from Sunday.
I told him how the disciples were sad and really sleepy. I told him that Jesus didn’t leave them but was there praying for them. I told him that the Holy Spirit was praying for them even though they were asleep.
At that moment an incredible thing happened. My son stopped crying and was silent. He was awake but his posture changed. He relaxed and then quietly said (in perfect 2-year old grammar), “Daddy, want Jesus pray for me.”
In that 2 o’clock hour, weary and wanting to go back to sleep, I suddenly found myself taking worship home in a new way. What I received on Sunday, the promise that Jesus is praying for me when I am weary and can’t find the words to pray, became a promise I was able to give to my son.
I prayed for him and then whispered in his ear, “Jesus is always praying for you and he’ll be with you all night as you sleep. It’s time to rest again and Jesus will keep praying for you.” It was simple. It was what Jesus had given me in worship. It was a promise given for this moment.
We weren’t in Gethsemane but my son’s bedroom was suddenly transformed from a place of weakness and sorrow into a place of Jesus’ strength and love.
As I laid my son back in his bed he was sound asleep. I went back to bed and eventually fell asleep, too. The next day when I saw my son for the first time he told me, “Jesus prayed for me.”
“Jesus prayed for me.”
I knew that he remembered our middle-of-the-night time together and the promise of Jesus to pray for him. It was a promise he had trusted through the night. It was Jesus’ strength that held him in prayer through the night. And now it was his chance to give that same promise back to his daddy.
Do you ever feel like that? Like you need a promise in the middle of something challenging? Have you experienced the comfort of someone speaking Jesus’ promise to you when you need it the most? Maybe you have shared Jesus’ assuring word to someone in sorrow and anguish.
Thinking about that night, I realize that my 2-year old son and I were engaged in following Jesus together. We both needed the promise Jesus had given in worship and pointed each other to that promise in the middle of the night.
We needed each other for that moment as partners on the journey of faith. Most importantly, we needed the strength and love of Jesus. His promise to pray for us transformed our home into a place of His strength that night, and it can change your circumstances too.