By Andi Hines
“Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.” Matthew 26:36-37
Today we are facing enormous challenges. Our health is threatened by the coronavirus. Our financial stability may be in question due to changes in our work environments, or perhaps the struggle is the inability to work at all. For some of us in the Valley, our very homes were endangered by wildfires, and sadly for some, their homes were destroyed. The situations of life could get worse, but many of us right now might ask, “How?”
As seen in the passage above, Jesus’ situation is about to take a dramatic turn. Pretty much everything will go sideways, and yet, knowing what is to come, He has chosen to take it all to His Father in prayer. In Matthew 36:17-37, the story of this challenge unfolds. Jesus tells His disciples,”’My appointed time is near” (vs. 18). The group gathers in a private room to share what Jesus knows is their last meal together. There He tells them that “one of you will betray me” (vs. 21b). The disciples are concerned about themselves. Proclamations abound: “No, not me…”
Jesus establishes a regular habit of remembering what He would soon accomplish on the cross. They are not aware of the significance of this meal, but He is. After their meal, they travel to the Mount of Olives. There Jesus tells them that “the sheep (his disciples) will be scattered,” which would leave Him alone in His most desperate time of need.
What does Christ do? He goes to prayer. Nearness with His Father in these moments is His most significant need. He knows what is coming. He leaves His inner three near to watch and to wait for Him. Yet, each time He comes back to them, and they are asleep!
Finally, in great sorrow, Jesus asks His Father if He can be relieved of the suffering to come. But then, in most profound, heartfelt passion, He three times submits to His Father’s will, knowing where this will lead Him. He declares, “your will be done.”
This is, to me, one of the most incredible prayers in the Bible. It is complete submission to God’s will. A relinquishing of life itself. Even though I pray every day, my prayers could never pretend to be so selfless.
What do I pray for? I pray for my dogs. I pray the weather will be less dreary. I pray for the light not to change to red as I quickly pass under it. I pray for many things that are very trivial in light of Christ’s circumstances and His prayer that night. Yet, I also pray for my church. I pray for my children, their children, and their future to be rich and full of God’s purpose. I pray for my nation to live in peace. I pray for honor and integrity to return to our nation’s leadership. And many times, as I see my real heart, I pray that I walk in a manner glorifying my God.
Your prayers might be like mine, some big, some small. But no matter how your prayers look today, I can guarantee that as you continue to grow with God, your prayers will change reflecting that growth.
Remember that each prayer we offer can be evidence of a heart dwelling on God’s desire for our lives and the lives of others. It can be a time spent seeking His heart, listening to His counsel, and being settled in the quiet as we wait and experience His presence filling us with peace.
Father, I have no courage short of Your strength. I have no momentous ability to overcome without You. And yet, I find my will often preferable to all I know You would ask. Help me Lord God. Help me become the woman of prayer who will listen first, gently speak, and then, in utter peace, move forward into all challenges fully submitted to You. Amen.