Lonely? Why would anyone seek loneliness?
One morning while sipping my coffee, I happily read from the book of Luke. Then, I reached chapter five where the writer said Jesus often withdrew to lonely places. Wait? As an introvert, I don’t think of my solitude and lonely places as lonely. They are restoring.
So, why did the translators choose the word lonely to describe Jesus’ prayer place? Was it possible the original word had a different meaning?
I discovered lonely was directly translated from the Greek word erémos, meaning wilderness. The word can also be an adjective meaning solitary or desolate. None of the descriptors have to mean lonely. Comforted by my newly discovered information, I was about to move on, but something prompted me to look up the word prayed.
Proseuchomai means to pray. Pros means towards, exchange. Euxomai means to exchange wishes. When the two are combined, the word means, “to interact with the Lord by switching human wishes (ideas) for His wishes as He imparts faith.”
Wait a second. God is supposed to answer my prayers, right? Since when am I supposed to pray His prayers? What if He wants something I don’t? I flinched as my flesh reared its ugly and selfish head.
Like many of us, I get caught in the age-old battle of sacrifice and trust versus selfishness and fear. Sometimes the battle is easy, such as agreeing with God’s wishes for someone to be saved. But what about when it comes to what He wants for my life? That’s often a hard-fought choice—a willed crucifixion of my desires—that is sometimes accompanied by kicking, screaming, and denial. Only later do I admit God was spot-on. In my need to be right—to determine my own destiny—I can lose sight of God’s plan.
Thankfully, God has mercy on my humanity. The last and key portion of the definition is “as He imparts faith.” God helps us in our weakness—even in prayer. He meets us and provides faith, confidence, and peace that the sacrifice of our desires for His is the correct choice.
The next time your flesh overruns your prayers, remember to pause, wait for God to impart His faith, and trust He will provide.
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