In researching this further, I found out there is actually a condition called hematidrosis (sounds like something from House, doesn’t it?), which is an actual mingling of blood and sweat found in cases of extreme anguish, strain, or sensitivity.
Whether Luke intended to be literal here, I don’t know, but obviously Jesus broke a profuse sweat as he prayed. He agonized over what was to come, and we can only imagine what his words to the Father might have been. I can’t help but think the reference to blood here is symbolic of what was about to happen.
What strikes me is that Jesus’ prayers were so earnest. His heart was fully engaged as he prayed about his impending crucifixion. Sometimes I wonder if I pray “earnestly” enough and I think many of you do too.
While I don’t think God requires us to break out in a severe sweat, I do believe He wants our hearts engaged. As Oswald Chambers so eloquently says, “Prayer is not what it costs us, but what it cost God to enable us to pray.”
Christ’s sacrifice for our salvation reaches beyond our rescue from eternal damnation, and I think I missed that until now. Christ’s death brought one of our greatest gifts imaginable—communication with God while we are still on the earthly plane.
Perhaps our need in prayer is to remember what Jesus endured and sacrificed starting right in that garden so that we could have the opportunity to truly communicate with Him now. His prayers from back then reach to the here and now, just as he prayed for us in John 17:20-26.
Whether we’re praying for 5 minutes or an hour, when we fix our hearts on Christ with the reverent understanding of what it cost Him, we begin to view prayer as a gift and a privilege. That is my goal, to see prayer as such a gift and to enjoy the privilege God has given us so generously at such a high price. In that realization, I am humbled yet again by the magnitude of God’s love and mercy.
And it’s so simple. We are His children and He desires that we come to Him as such. Pay attention to a young child in prayer and watch how earnest they are. They simply speak what’s in their hearts and then trust God has it in complete control. They walk away free and assured.
Lysa Tekurst speaks of prayer in her book, Made to Crave. Specifically having times to just sit in God’s presence to listen, especially when we’re at a loss for words.
Sometimes we don’t know what to pray, especially in our mismatched marriages or situations so bewildering we can’t fathom what to ask. But even to sit in silence before God in those times and allow the Holy Spirit to pray for us is a sacrifice of prayer for ultimately we are called to sacrifice our will for the greater one of God. We come before God with our own brokenness to offer, trusting that He is the only true source of our healing and hope.
Praying and believing,