36 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.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” 40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” 43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. 45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” Matthew 26:36-46
Global technology was once the stuff of Science Fiction. What used to take weeks, or years to inform the world of current events now takes seconds. An e-mail can be sent to Australia and immediately they have it in their computer.
Yet, in churches across America today Christians find it difficult to communicate with God. It is not because God is unreachable, but we are unresponsive. It is not because God is not listening, but rather we are not speaking.
God said, “I am not far from any one of you.” God also said, “Call upon me and I will answer.”
In our world today we think it inexcusable not to use the technological tools at our disposal and yet we ignore the greatest communication tool given to man — prayer.
In the prayer of Jesus in our text, we see the greatest example of prayer. We can communicate with anyone, anywhere, about anything, but are unwilling to communicate with God.
Prayer is about expressing a desire. Paul said, I asked the Lord three times to remove his thorn in his flesh. That is desire expressed.
Prayer is about exploring a direction. David asked God, Shall I go up against the enemy? That is seeking direction. Direction sought should be about God’s direction, not ours.
Prayer is about exhaustive determination. Determination is a matter of the will, or making up our mind to pray.
Billy Graham said, “Heaven is full of answers to prayer for which no one ever bothered to ask.”
Prayer to God is not to be Instructional: You hear people say, “I told God this is what I needed, or wanted.” This is the “Santa Claus approach to praying.” Instead of asking God for what we want, we should be seeking God’s will for our lives, and for the moment. Jesus prayed, “Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done.”
God does not need us to tell Him how to answer our prayers. He has a plan and a purpose for us and we must seek His will, not ours. Telling God implies an obligation that says, God owes us for what we have given up. “Would you” goes further than “You will.” If we talked less in our prayers and listened more it would change our lives. Isn’t it strange that while instructing God, we seldom ask for a change of character, but always a change of circumstances, and oftentimes it is those circumstances God has placed us in to serve Him?
Prayer to God is not too informational. Notice in our text this morning, Jesus said, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” Jesus did not inform the Father of His need.
Dwight L. Moody said, “Spread out your petition before God, and then say, ‘Thy will, not mine, be done.’ The sweetest lesson I have learned in God’s school is to let the Lord choose for me.” Isn’t that what Jesus prayed?
Prayer is about a loving parent meeting with a loving child in fellowship. We are aware of the needs of our children, and long to meet those needs. The Father, too, is aware of our needs and long to meet those needs.
A man wrote, “Though God knows all our needs, prayer is necessary for the cleansing and enlightenment of the soul.”
Prayer to God is to be invitational. In our text, Jesus was inviting the Father to be a part of His ordeal when he said, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will but as you will.”
Some will say, “I can handle making decisions such as who I marry, what career path I choose, or where I will live.” Others will say, “I will call on you when I get into a situation I cannot handle by myself.” We see this so often in the choices people make as to whom they will marry. They date unsaved, and oftentimes ungodly people, and fall in love, and deep down they know it is against God’s will. Then when things go wrong in the marriage, they ask, “Why did God allow this to happen.” God desires to be a part of our everyday life.
In the Garden of Eden fellowship with God was broken and God worked out a plan of salvation whereby that fellowship is restored. He wants to be a part of our life in all areas. Let us say it like this, “If we pray to God for something, or someone, rest assured, God is going to use us as a part of the answer to that prayer.” That is true partnership praying, just as Jesus prayed. The lessons to be learned from the prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane is, our prayers are not always answered in the way in which we would prefer. Jesus said, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not my will but thine be done.” Notice, Jesus is leaving the possibility of the answer to his prayer with the Father. That prayer was both answered, and not answered. It was not answered in the sense that the cup did not pass from him. It was answered in the phrase, “Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done.” Sometimes God wants us to go through an unpleasant situation to allow His will to be performed. We do not ask, “How can I know God’s will for my life.” The problem is, so often, we do not like God’s will for our life.
The devotional this week is provided by Bob Lucas who graduated from Howard Payne in 1973. He has pastored seven churches scattered through Texas, and has conducted many revival meetings in various churches, throughout the state. Bob has served two terms as moderator of one of the Baptist Associations, two terms as President of the county-wide Ministerial Alliance. He is currently living in Seguin Texas and is available to preach revivals and do pulpit supply.