Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” Matthew 26:36 (NIV)
In Jesus’ final days on earth before he was crucified, he went away to pray. Every night throughout the past week leading up to Good Friday, our Church was brought through different forms of prayer. The service hall was cleared of all chairs and it became a place of solitude and prayer. Many came and were blessed as they spent time in the “Garden of Gethsemane”.
Night One – Lectio Divina
by Tiffany and Darlene
On night 1 of Holy Week, Pastor Thomas brought us through Lectio Divina which is praying through Meditating on God’s word. The first hour was spent in quiet as everyone found their own spot to sit at in the service hall to be in solitude, preparing their hearts. Songs were played over us as we focused on God. In the next hour, Pastor Thomas taught us how to practice the prayerful reading of the Bible. We went forward to get little booklets that showed us how to “Do the Lectio Three-Step”.
We then put into practice what we learned by meditating either on Isaiah 53 or John 12. We were encouraged to take our time reading and not to rush. While we were reading, if we came across a word or verse that struck us Pastor Thomas encouraged us to stop, and “pitch our tents there”, meditating on that particular verse, journaling down anything that spoke to us through that word.
The night ended with Holy communion. Here are some shots and reflections of the night by Tiffany.
Night Two – Praying out the Psalms
The night started with a time of silence and soaking in the Lord’s presence. Following it, Tom introduced to the congregation 5 ways we can use to pray out the Psalm. They are namely: (1) say them out loud, (2) build onto them, (3) paraphrase them, (4) learn them by heart and (5) marinate in them. The night then closed with Holy Communion.
There are truly endless ways in which we can read and enjoy the Word. As many would agree, different seasons or our lives lead us to interpret scripture differently. And now, I’ve also come to see that different styles of praying on the Word leads us to different spiritual experiences too. The first style allowed me to declare the Lord’s goodness and the second allowed me to sieve out truths to apply to my life. The third made me own the Scripture for my life while the fourth etched them into my mind. I did not have the time to pray with the fifth style but I imagine that it would encapsulate me with the Spirit.
Personally, from tonight’s session, the humility of Christ struck me the most. He was tortured till his strength dried up. He was humiliated till his heart dissolved away. But still, in all the physical and emotional turmoil, he recognised who was greater and whose will was sovereign. With all that he had left, he praised the Lord. Selflessly he demonstrated, “whatever it takes, let Your will be done”.
Night Two – Jesus at Gethsemane
God’s presence was so thick from the moment I stepped into the hall. There was a deep sense of peace that was hovering above, an inexplainable closeness to Him. He is here. It was like stepping into the Holy of Holies, how we could hear His voice so clearly, feel His touch so tangibly and I was reminded that this is only possible because of what was done on Good Friday. Jesus is the only way heaven’s reality breaks into ours.
During the time of soaking in silence at the start, a phrase came to mind: “The world often perceived surrender as a form of defeat, submission as a form of weakness.” I didn’t fully understood why it resonated with me at that moment but I penned it down anyway. Before the holy communion commenced, I tried to fully comprehend Jesus’ inward journey in Gethsemane, by reading Luke 22 over and over again. “Father if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. YET I want your will to be done, not mine.” So much truth could be gleaned from this verse alone; Jesus’ raw and vulnerable humanity, His love displayed in pure reverence and obedience, etc. But the word that jumped out at me was, surrender. God is never impressed with outward appearances. He is always concerned with the heart’s posture. He views surrender completely different from how the world does. He honours it and in time, surrender will reap manifold. I was in tears as it brought me much comfort during this trying time of transition, personally.
Indeed, Jesus chose to go beyond justice and quite incredibly took all the suffering upon himself. He entered into our world, suffered our pains, and offered himself to us in the most excruciating yet self sacrificial manner. Good Friday is good only because HE is good.
Night Three – Praying Prophetically for Others
by Tian Yi
“Seeing yourself in the way that God sees you.” Amongst all those sentences I heard during today’s session, this is what really struck a chord in me. This week is a “special” week for me, not exactly in a good way, as it is my final exams’ week in University. Before coming to today’s session, I just finished two papers in the past two days, with my mind preoccupied by the three other papers to come in the next week. Before the start of this week, I thought everything would be fine — only to find out actually nothing had gone as I hoped. I massively messed up my papers, and those are the ones that I was supposed to score well in. Well, just as a joke, now I might want to sign my GPA up for adoption, for I cannot raise it by myself (bitter laughter). I feel lousy whenever I cannot perform, and especially lousy when I am especially disappointed with myself, which I am now. I am still feeling lousy now. But it feels good to be reminded that God doesn’t see me as lousy, and that I am loved. Love, faith, hope, those are the things that I need to remind myself of, and I know I would need them so much in the next weeks.
Another thing that struck me was about prayers. Many a times, we are drowned in our own daily busy-ness(at least I often am), until we become little islands amidst a sea of busy-nesses and worries, each disconnected from another other due to the waves and waves of “things to do” constantly flooding our minds. However it is when we pray for others, that we really try to see things from someone else’s perspective — their hopes, dreams, fears, disappointments, and how they wish their future to be like. We, the lonely islands, then begin to connect little by little, with each other, till this connectedness overcomes the sea of worries and busy-ness.
Night Four – Intercessory Prayer
by Rachel Lim
Interceding in twos and threes for the needs of those in our church.
Communion after Corporate Prayer led by Senior Pastor Kenny
Stepping into the hall, a sense of serenity washes over all. All weariness and tiredness, left at the door. Some of us brought along our thoughts into the sanctuary, yet in time, we brought them to the Father instead and allowed him to work within us.
We kick started the Intercessory prayer with a soaking session where we retuned and aligned ourselves with the Holy Spirit. During the Individual Intercessory session, we listened and kept our hearts open for the Holy Spirit to drop in names for us to pray. One thing I learned is that the Father listens and knows what we are concerned about even though we may not be able to describe it in words. So while our prayers may not seem like much, God works through prayers and even our little Intercessory prayers count.
The group intercessory session allowed us to get together as brothers and sisters in Christ and to pray for the different prayer requests in our church. Through this exercise, we prayed for the health related issues for some church members; those in the midst of transition and church leadership issues. More often than not, we think that everything on Sunday is good and so we tend to take for granted our church internal issues, but I am reminded that a church is a place for the sinners and that we are all pilgrims together in this journey. The need to keep each other in prayer is so important and it is a good way to show love among our community.
Lastly we prayed together as a corporate body, we presented issues such as countries we are doing missions in, our heart attitudes and our concerns as a church, along with the communities we are reaching out to. We asked the lord to correct our hearts in the areas that we have gone astray. One thing the Lord spoke to me about was to keep praying for our church to be awakened and stay awake, so we can do his work in the community we are placed in. It reminds me of what Joseph Chean shared, “For God so loved Geylang, that he gave World Revival Prayer Fellowship…” We need to remember we are in this community for a meaningful purpose. We finished off with Holy Communion, remembering the last supper and what our Lord Jesus had done for us on the cross.