Pastor Dom Cardamone
If anything is needed for the time we face as families, churches, and as a nation, it is prayer. There are several instructive elements in our Savior’s garden prayer in His hour of trial. Let’s consider them together and seek to implement them in our own prayer lives.
Jesus spent time alone in prayer. Matthew 26:39a tells us that after asking His disciples to pray for Him in His hour of trial, Jesus “went a little further.” Luke 22:41 says of the same account, “he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast.” Jesus was putting some space between Him and others so He could pray with God by Himself. Be diligent to make space for this too. Social prayer is good with a friend or loved one, family prayer is crucial, corporate prayer at church is essential, but prayer in solitude with God is imperative! This was the example of Jesus on many occasions in His prayer life with His Father. Consider Mark 1:35 where it says, “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” God desires that alone, quiet (distraction-free), one-on-one time with us. We should too. Charles Spurgeon said, “The best incense burns in your private devotions, where no one but God hears you.”
Matthew 26:39b says that Jesus “fell on his face.” No, He didn’t trip and fall. This is the posture of humility, and it gives us a good foothold in prayer! Consider the two men of Luke 18:9-14. The Pharisee prayed in his pride and the publican prayed in humility. The publican went away justified and the Pharisee did not. God resists pride but extends grace where there is humility (see Proverbs 3:34; James 4:6; and 1 Peter 5:5-7). When we pray, let us come in the right attitude of humility. God owes us nothing, and we don’t deserve anything. We approach Him in prayer solely because of His grace!
In verse 44 it reads, “the third time, saying the same words.” Prayer was Jesus’ custom and routine (See Luke 22:39, the word “wont” means custom or manner). It’s important to have routines in life. Implementing them can engender success. This would be true concerning a routine of prayer as well. Wherever He was, Jesus’ routine was to make time to pray and it had a tremendous impact on His ministry. Jesus was repetitive too. He prayed the same prayer, three times. This was not vain repetition that Jesus taught against in Matthew 6:7. Rather, it was holy persistence. The same persistence Jesus taught us to have in the parable of the widow in Luke 18:1-8. There he said, “that men ought always to pray and not to faint.” The widow’s continual asking earned what her first request could not win. Some prayers will only be answered by God through persistence. (Read that again!) I wonder how many answers to prayers I may be missing out on because I do not persist in my request.
While Jesus persisted with His request in this passage, He resigned the request to His Father’s will (See verses 39 and 42). This is beautiful submission. Our human nature is to pray for our will to be done, but it should be as the model prayer teaches us in Matthew 6:10 to pray to God “thy will be done in earth as it is in Heaven.” Let whatever we pray about and our greatest desire be as God wills. God will determine what is best. We must be content to leave our prayer in His hands. He knows what to give, how to give, when to give, etc., and He knows if it is necessary to withhold. We can take comfort in resigning our requests and will to Him because He loves us and does all things well.