Gethsemane - Prayer Service

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This prayer service helps youth reflect on Jesus's struggle as he faced his own death in the garden of Gethsamane. Like Jesus, students are encouraged to place their fears about death into the hands of God.

(15 minutes)

Before the session have your students do the Reflection Exercise: My Least Answerable Questions. If you do not plan on reading the Scripture passage (Mark 14:32-42) yourself, use the break time to ask a young person to read it. Mark the passage and tell him or her to prepare during the break.

1. Allow sufficient time for all to assemble silently in the prayer space and to become still. Dim the lights. Pray aloud using these or your own words:

  • Jesus, you know all our sorrows and all our doubts. You willingly entered the darkness because this is what God asked of you. Be with us now.

2. In a solemn voice, read aloud Mark 14:32-42, the Gethsemane passage, or direct your volunteer reader to do so.

3. After a brief pause, read aloud your own unanswerable question, fold your sheet, and place it in the chalice that you set in the prayer space. Then lead the young people in making an act of faith by reciting together, "Take this cup." Explain that as this refrain is spoken, it is a statement of entrusting ourselves into God's loving hands.

Next, explain that each person will be given an opportunity to read aloud her or his question. Tell everyone that when their turn comes, they may read their question either aloud to the group or silently to themselves. After each person's reading--or brief silence--have all repeat aloud together, "Take this cup." Then the person folds her or his slip of paper and places it in the chalice. The next person continues in the same way, and so on, until all the questions have been placed in the chalice. Pause (for no more than a minute) for silent prayer.

4. To conclude the prayer, hold up the chalice and pray aloud in your own words or as follows:

  • God of compassion, you who know us better than we know ourselves, you who care deeply about our every anxiety and hurt, you who know our most secret dreams, receive these precious questions born of our own struggles. As Jesus' struggle intensified, he entrusted his life into your hands. God of mystery, we are on holy ground; sweep over us as you swept over the waters of the deep so long ago. May your Spirit strengthen each of us that we might pray with Jesus, "'Into your hands I commit my spirit'" [Luke 23:46, NJB].

Lower the cup and place it near the unlit candle.


(This prayer is slightly adapted from Death, Grief, and Christian Hope, a mini-course in the Horizons Program series, by Nancy Marrocco [Winona, MN: Saint Mary's Press, 1997], page 25. Copyright © 1997 by Saint Mary's Press. Permission is granted for this activity to be used for classroom or campus ministry purposes. This activity may not be republished in any form without written permission from Saint Mary's Press. To order this book, contact Saint Mary's Press at 800-533-8095, or order online.)

Published February 9, 2004.