If I had been one of the twelve who walked with Jesus, I know I would have knelt in the dark garden and, with gnarled thoughts, begun my struggle to pray. Sorrow would have consumed me to the point of exhaustion and sleep would have been irresistible. While I escaped in dreams, my Lord would have battled the unthinkable alone, praying “a stone’s throw” away from me. (Luke 22:41)
Why would the Holy Spirit inspire such a term in the mind of Luke? Why use that phrase to describe the distance between me and my Lord in prayer?
We throw stones for several reasons. We throw stones when we’re bored. We skip stones when we’re nervous, standing by a lake with nothing else to do. We throw angry stones at people. Sometimes we throw stones in prayer. That’s right, we toss our hard things at God from a distance. I find myself doing this often. I rush into His throne room with a list of wants and needs. I dare not draw too close to the King, I just toss my small stones at the throne in words, pleadings and sometimes even demands. Prayer becomes a means to an end. If I just exercise sufficient faith in the means then the end becomes a reality.
This mystifies God. Isaiah 59:16 says, "And He saw that there was no man, And was astonished that there was no one to intercede..." (NAS)
Lately I’ve found myself tossing a great many stones to the Lord without entering close in worship. Prayer that doesn’t begin in worship digresses to duty, bouncing onto the floor unanswered, leaving my heart as hard as the stones I’ve thrown toward God.
Worship helps me draw near to a place where I can see how great He is. When I see how great He is, I am struck with awe. When I am struck with awe I become curious about His mind. When I have His mind, prayer is transformed to a desire to do His will. Then and there my prayers change, the hard things are transformed in my own heart, and intercession becomes a joy again.
Stop hurling your hard, stone-like troubles at God. Don't remain a stone’s throw away from Him. Seek to know His mind. Then intercede in prayer according to His will. There is much to intercede for, but astonishingly few truly intercede—because we pray a stone’s throw away.
Hebrews 10:22 encourages us to “draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water." (NIV) We can be confident that our Lord not only calls us to draw near He cleanses us to draw near. We don’t have to stand at a distance we can draw near with full assurance.