There are so many situations that I find myself in, and I’m thinking “I don’t want to be here. I really, really don’t want to do this.” And yet, I know it must be done. Lately, I’ve found that when I pray like Jesus in Matthew 26, my heart is eased at the circumstances I’m facing.
Most how to articles on prayer use the Lord’s prayer as a template (Matthew 6:9-13). After all, it was the answer to the apostles request:
“Lord, teach us to pray…”
It is a beautiful example of how to pray, especially the “forgive” part in verse twelve. Trust me, I’ve prayed those words a time or two or ten thousand. Matter of fact, I’ve prayed it in all caps and personalized: …as I forgive THOSE WHO HAVE TRESPASSED AGAINST ME.
But that isn’t the prayer of Jesus’ that I’m writing about today. It is the prayer He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, just before He was arrested and crucified (Matthew 26:39, 42, 44-46, HCSB, emphasis added). In this prayer, we see Jesus’ humanness and utter desperation:
39 Going a little farther, He fell facedown and prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.”
42 Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, Your will be done.”
44 After leaving them, He went away again and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more.
45 Then He came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the time is near. The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners.
46 Get up; let’s go! See, My betrayer is near.”
Jesus has a reverent and submissive approach to God: He falls facedown in prayer. He also calls God “My Father.” In His time of deepest need, Jesus ran into the loving arms of His Daddy. Jesus was grieved at the suffering He was about to endure on the cross.
Jesus’ first request to God says, in essence “If it’s possible, don’t make me walk through this. Take this hard thing away.” But He still says “Not My will, but Yours.”
He’s saying what I’ve said in many a prayer “Please don’t make me do it!” Sadly I don’t include “Not my will but Yours, sweet Lord…”
The second time Jesus prays, He says “If You can’t take it away, if I must walk through it, let Your will be done.” He knows that anything is possible with God, that His Father CAN take it away, but also that God’s will must be done. And if it’s God’s will that this should happen, then Jesus must walk it. There’s a slight shift from “let it pass from Me” to “if it can’t” – almost as if He is saying “So be it.”
The real change of heart comes the third time Jesus prays. We see that God’s will became Jesus’s will. Jesus had reconciled His heart to the will of His Father. Not only that, He embraces God’s will for Him: The time is near…Get up! Let’s go!
May we all pray with a heart ready and eager to change to the will of our Father in heaven.
Lord, most days I ask You to bless my will and my plans. God, change my heart! Give me an attitude of reverent submission to embrace Your will, not mine. In Jesus’ powerful name, Amen.
Grace be with you,