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Three Prayer Tips from Mary meeting Jesus in the Garden on Easter Sunday

The Gospel of John tells us that Mary Magdalene was one of the first on the scene at the tomb on that first Easter morning.

When I look at the story from John’s account, I am struck by the pathos and pain coursing through Mary’s whole being.

Still, that encounter has a beautiful ending, as she experiences first-hand the power and glory of the resurrection.

Here are three super-encouraging ‘takeaways’ for our prayer lives from this much-loved Easter story.

1. We can bring ALL our hurts and pain when we pray

Surprised to find the stone rolled away when she first arrives, Mary peers inside the tomb to see two angels sitting beside neatly folded grave clothes.

Her first thought is that someone has stolen Jesus’ body. She has no expectation or understanding of resurrection.

Few people—if any—in the group of first believers expected the Resurrection, even though Jesus had mentioned it several times. Their Jewish upbringing taught them that the Resurrection would be something that would occur on the Last Day.

She sees a mysterious stranger — who she initially takes to be the gardener. We can appreciate why Mary would think that. After all, we find the tomb within a garden!

Still, that Mary mistook a man that she knew well for a total stranger is puzzling. And it gives some insight into the depth of sorrow, pain, loss and bereavement that Mary felt at that moment.

She was so overcome with grief that she couldn’t even recognise her Master.

A fundamental truth is wrapped up in this well-known element of the story. We can bring our pain and grief to Jesus.

Nothing can be gained from the ‘stiff upper lip’ approach. There is no purpose in hiding our pain from Jesus. Or should I say, trying to hide our pain — because Jesus knows EXACTLY how we are feeling at any point in time?

Come with honesty. Come with your authentic inner feelings. Come as you are.

Be honest with God. He’s a big boy—he can take it!

2. We must know who it is that we seek

Jesus, still giving a passable impression of a gardener, asks Mary a second question. Having asked her why do you weep, he asks her:

Who is it that you seek?

“Who is that you seek?” is a GREAT question. And it’s a question that we ALL need to have the answer to whenever we come to God in prayer.

It might sound obvious that we know we are speaking to God when we pray.

I’m not so sure!

If we aren’t careful, it’s all too easy to lose sight of whom we pray to.

I’ve certainly met plenty of people for whom prayer has become a dry ritual devoid of life. Heck, I’ve been in that place myself at times.

When we lose focus on the object of our prayer — the God and King of All Creation — our prayers are like throwing jelly at a wall.

We hope some of it will stick, but most slides inexorably down onto the floor!

When we come to pray, be ready to answer the question: ‘Who is it that you seek?’. We seek the living Lord.

And just like Mary, we will find Him.

3. We must be ready to fall to our knees

Eventually, Jesus can no longer leave Mary thinking He is the gardener. With a single word — Mary — he reveals himself before the distraught woman.

In that moment of recognition, Mary falls to her knees in worship.

We MUST replicate this in our prayers. We must recognise our Master for who He really is.

There is no compulsion to fall to our knees literally. Some of us physically cannot do so. That’s absolutely fine.

Of course, should we find it helpful to adopt a kneeling attitude in prayer, then we are free to do so…

But whether we come kneeling, sitting or standing, the attitude of our heart must be one of worshipful recognition of His Lordship over our lives.

An inward “kneeling”, if you want to think of it that way…

It’s not the natural disposition of the modern-day human being to vacate the centre of our lives. The world tells us we — and we alone — are the most important person to consider in our lives.

We are constantly regaled with exhortations to live on our own terms or play by our own rules.

Such an attitude is not the way of the humble Christian spirit.

Instead, we come in recognition of our need for God.

Like Mary Magdalene, we bring ourselves — with all our struggles and hurts — and recognise Jesus for who He really is. With that dawning recognition of the resurrected Saviour, we bow our hearts and lives before Him in worship and prayer.

Then, again, like Mary, we can proclaim, I have seen the Lord.


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