Praying during Tough Times

Key Verse: “He went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”
—Matthew 26:39

Selected Scripture:
Matthew 26:36-50

FOLLOWING THE PASSOVER meal, Jesus and his apostles left the upper room, walked down through the Kidron Valley and up the other side toward the summit of the Mount of Olives to a place called Gethsemane. Jesus said unto the disciples, “Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee [James and John], and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.”—Matt. 26:36-38

The Master walked on a little way, and fell on his face, and prayed, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (vs. 39) He came back and found his disciples sleeping. He said to Peter, “Could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation. … He went away again the second time, and prayed, … If this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.” (vss. 40-44) The prayer of Jesus was not a prayer to change God’s will, but that it might be known clearly and give him the strength and courage to obediently follow it through to completion.

Jesus returned to his disciples and said, “Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.” He said, “He is at hand that doth betray me. And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast. And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him. And Jesus said unto him, Friend [Greek, comrade, partner], wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him.”—vss. 45-50

Jesus did not know if he would successfully endure the scoffing, ridicule, and abuse of sinful men. It has been suggested that Psalm 102 is the prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane. Jesus knew that if he failed in this last trial he would go out of existence forever. Thus, the psalmist has him praying, “Oh my God, take me not away in the midst of my days.” At this point comes the Father’s assurance that he would not fail, but would receive a Divine nature.—Ps. 102:24-28

Our prayers must, like those of Jesus, be prayers seeking God’s will for us and for the courage to carry it out. Thus, our prayers are not “God do this,” or “God do that,” but “let me know your will for me and give me the courage and strength to do your will.” While Jesus may have longed to see an alternative path, an option to the cross, he never for an instant wavered in his absolute obedience to perform God’s will. His prayer was not to change the will of God but for courage to be completely obedient to the doing of God’s will.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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