And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And [Jesus] said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:32-39)
This must have been such a hard moment. Jesus is distressed, troubled and filled with sorrow. He throws himself on the ground in prayer, asking, “Is there some way I can get out of this?” In other words, “I don’t want to do this, Father!”
How do you feel about Jesus’ prayer? Are you surprised that Jesus had second thoughts about his mission? Or can you empathize with him? When’s the last time you just wanted it all to go away?
Times of distress, trouble and sorrow have a way of lighting a fire under our prayer lives. When life is good or even routine, prayer drifts down our to do list. But when the test results include the word malignant, or mom had to be taken to the hospital, or your workplace announces layoffs, or you’re taking the kid to the ER for the third time this month, we become very good pray-ers. We enlist the prayers of our church family. We dig out all the bible promises that nothing is impossible for God, that whatever we ask in Jesus’ name he will grant, and that he is the God who loves, rescues and heals us.
OK, Jesus was a bit more consistent in his prayer life. He would get up early and wander off to an isolated spot to pray on both good days and bad. But we never read about him rolling on the ground in agonizing prayer until this moment. We don’t hear him wishing he didn’t have to be the Savior of the world. He doesn’t lose it and break down in sorrow. Until this moment.
So you know this is big. This is real. This is going to be excruciating. This is going to be horrible. Please, Father, get me out of this. take this cup away from me.”
“Yet not what I will, but what you will.” At the end of his prayer, nothing has changed, has it? Jesus is still going to be beaten, mocked, and crucified. He will endure the worst pain that could be dished out. His heavenly Father doesn’t take away the cup.
So why pray? Why pray, “Thy will be done”? Why pray if life is going to hurt, or I’m going to fail, or mom’s going to die, or we’re going to lose the house?
Good question. The key word in your prayer is Father. He’s there. He understands. He cares. He knows. He’s there. Life isn’t easy. It’s not easy for you or for Jesus. But it’s life. And that’s what he wants you to have. Even if he has to die.
Heavenly Father, Abba Father, I know you can do anything. Please give me life. Amen.