“Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Mark 14: 36
We have reached a turning point in the story of Jesus. We are now entering the time of Jesus’ suffering, and it is hard to read and hard to talk about.
It’s sad. But it is necessary. It is the reason He came, it is the gospel, and the crux on which our hope for salvation hangs. And it’s so important to talk about with your children.
I always remind my kids as we head into the story of the cross of the very beginning–when sin came into the world and separated all of us from God.
I remind them that Jesus is the promise to make all of our hearts “right with God” again.
Jesus, being God’s son, has the power to stop and overcome His enemies at any time. Although he has the authority and power to stop those who hurt Him, he dosen’t because He LOVES us.
To make a way for all of us to be close to God, to go to heaven, Jesus knew He had to pay for our sins. Death is the only way, and Jesus’ love for us is SO strong that He suffered and died knowing one day WE could know God like He does.
One day we can live in Heaven with Him and God too.
LOVE is why He goes through these sad things. (John 17:24-26)
So I encourage you friend, DON’T be afraid of going “there” with your kids and talking about the sad stuff. What a privilege you have to be the one to share the gospel with them, and talk about it.
Read Luke 22: 39-54 and John 18:1-12. (Or read “A Dark Night in the Garden” from the Jesus Storybook Bible.)
Ask your children, Why do you think Jesus went to the garden to pray?
This is a great time to talk about prayer with your children. Prayer is talking to God. Simple as that. Jesus, knowing the hour had come for Him to soon die, wanted to talk about it with His Father.
Ask your kids, “Could you imagine how hard that would be to do?” We can go to our Heavenly Father about anything and everything…all our thoughts, fears, worries, struggles, and joys. He wants to hear them all, and He strengthens us.
“An angel from heaven appeared to Jesus and gave him strength (Luke 22:47).”
God never asks us to do a job that He will not give us the strength and courage to do. The Bible says Jesus was praying so hard in the garden that His sweat was like drops of blood.
Prayer is a way for us to tell God we trust Him and want to obey (especially when it’s hard). Jesus did this very thing in the garden.
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup of suffering away from me. But do what you want, not what I want.” Matthew 26:39
Why did He ask his friends (the disciples) to pray too?
Jesus asked the disciples to pray three different times (in the Mark 14 account) so they would not fall into temptation.
The disciples were very sad because they knew Jesus was going to be arrested and die soon. They got so sleepy that instead of praying, they fell asleep.
“Watch and pray. Then you won’t fall into sin when you are tempted. The spirit is willing. But the body is weak.” Mark 14: 38
Jesus knew that soldiers were coming soon to arrest Him. He knew that it would be easy for the disciples to be afraid. After Jesus was arrested, “everyone left Him and ran away (Mark 14:50).”
Prayer helps us power up with God! God knows that we can’t do His work in our own strength. Even if we try really hard our strength will never match with God’s power. But when we pray and call on His name to help us, we can do anything!!
I told my kids that Jesus took time away to pray all the time in His ministry. He loved to spend time talking with His Father. I wanted to put this into practice.
After we read the story I took the kids to a walking trail near our house, a nice quiet peaceful spot for a prayer walk.
With young kids I knew this might be a challenge (to actually WALK and PRAY on a beautiful, sunny day outside–near the park) but I told them before we even got out of the car that we were going to imagine we were going to the Garden of Gethsemane and that Jesus had asked us to PRAY.
In my women’s Bible Study we use the acrostic ACTS when we pray and I have been wanting to begin teaching my kids this discipline–Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.
As we walked on the trail I picked 4 trees where we could stop and pray. At the first tree we spent some time adoring Jesus. I just encouraged them by saying, “Jesus, I love you because….” and we took turns going around the circle.
When we got to the second tree for confession, I encouraged them to first find a spot where they could sit quietly and talk to God about anything they might have done that might have hurt Him or hurt others.
When they finished their quiet reflection (about 1 minute!), we joined hands again and confessed them aloud. I led them by saying, “God, I’m sorry for….” and then we thanked God that we are forgiven because of Jesus.
As we circled up next to the third tree we spent some time thanking God.
We began with the simple statement, “God, I thank you for…” I was really so amazed at how much they had to say! I was reminded of the beauty of child-like faith and finding joy in thanking Him for the smallest things.
Finally, we spent some time in supplication. This was a big word for my kids but I led them in prayer with this prompt, “I want to pray for…” and encouraged them to pray for anything or anyone they wanted.
We closed by praying for our own hearts–that God would strengthen us to do as Jesus did, to say “Do as you want, not what I want” with the plans He had for us.
Afterwards, we ran around and played but we picked up a few things to take home to remember our time in prayer and to remember the prayer Jesus prayed before He died.
Andrew of course went for sticks. He said He could make a cross out of them.
Eleanor found some pretty leaves, one red like Jesus’ blood and one in the shape of a heart.
We also grabbed some petals from a pansy to add to our ornament for the cross we are using to display our Easter experiences.
To find out more about our Easter cross and how to make the ornaments, READ HERE.
It is my prayer that YOU ALL too will get to experience the joy of praying together as a family this Easter, remembering the prayer Jesus prayed when He surrendered His will for the glory and praise of our salvation!