How to Pray – February 15th, 2019

When we don’t know…

My heart is aching this morning for a father whose daughter is in a hospital struggling with a horrific plague on humanity. Apparently, the cancer, wasn’t caught at an early stage and now the doctors are trying to put together a lifesaving plan.

This dilemma presents itself in our walk with the Lord and try as we may, our words just don’t fit right.

We reflect on Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane and how He desired that the cup of suffering pass by. However, so much more present in His mind was the will of the Father.

We often find ourselves in a similar position, we know what we want. We know if we had the power in our hands, exactly what we would see done. But then we remember that we are unaware of everything surrounding the matter. We can’t see anything from the perspective that God can. Making dictates to God, under those circumstances goes beyond inappropriate, it is wrong.

Our example

The Lord is sovereign. We cannot possibly know what is best for us or for His glory from our narrowly focused perspective. The name it and claim it crowd has the flawed concept that God lives at our beckon command, anything we want we can have just as long as we leverage God’s Word against His will.

How utterly flawed is that thinking?

And the last enemy to be destroyed is death. For the Scriptures say, “God has put all things under his authority.” (Of course, when it says “all things are under his authority,” that does not include God himself, who gave Christ his authority.) Then, when all things are under his authority, the Son will put himself under God’s authority, so that God, who gave his Son authority over all things, will be utterly supreme over everything everywhere.

1 Corinthians 15:26-28 (NLT)

Paul writes in his first letter to the Corinthians illustrating, his insight into the life of Jesus.

Take the Lord Jesus subjecting Himself to the will of the Father in the garden as He prayed. His prayer wasn’t a simple, ‘Father, I want this but if you want that, it is well with me.’  No, this was an agonizing plea…

He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.

Luke 22:41-44 (NLT)

Some things to consider here in this setting.

  1. Jesus brought some select friends to pray with Him. This escapes us as we consider what we might think is this rather unpleasant circumstance. Jesus pleading for His life with His Father.
  2. He separates from them a short distance and kneels to pray. The reason Jesus has brought his disciples along with Him was that they would also pray with Him. This escapes us. We think of these guys as being disengaged and only pandering to Jesus by accompanying Him to the Garden of Gethsemane.  So, they fell asleep.
    We’ll see differently here soon.
  3. Christ’s desire was not to have to face the cross. Death couldn’t hold Him and though we can’t draw from the text, he knew of His forthcoming victory over sin and death; I have to believe at this point He knew His victory was secure.
  4. As he prayed an angel appeared, and it says he strengthened Jesus.
  5. Jesus prayed even more intently, so much so he sweat profusely, like droplets of blood falling to the ground.
    This because His desire was not to endure the suffering that lay ahead. That suffering was complete separation from His Father.

But He continued to humble Himself and remain surrendered to the will of God the Father.

After doing this he got up and went back to His disciples who had fallen asleep. We take a harsh view of them doing this. Some might even consider them to be a lazy self-absorbed group. This wasn’t the case.

At last he stood up again and returned to the disciples, only to find them asleep, exhausted from grief. “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation.”

Luke 22:45-46 (NLT)

We miss the fact they were apparently in ear-shot of Jesus so they could hear what he was praying for. Jesus found them sleeping yes, but we miss that they were so grieved by what was taking place they succumbed to sleep from that grief.

The Greek word for this represents the appearance to have fallen to sleep or to have deceased and lay dead. I would have to assume they were so overtaken by grief that their emotional state deprived their minds of oxygen and they flat out fainted.

Our prayers

We find ourselves not in exactly the same situation, but often position in a set of circumstances where we know what we want, we don’t understand what God wants for us or the people we are praying for.

It becomes essential that our ‘Outcome Based Prayer’ carry the cavate of surrender to the will of God. This isn’t easy and the prayer subjecting ourselves and those we love to the will of the Father is difficult when we want so very much to have what we seek from Him, but He is Sovereign.

From my personal experience, it would appear that when my home and all that I have physically in this world hangs on an edge and a prayer, that my pleading with God would be that He restore my income and bring the employment opportunity I so desire. It’s reasonable is it not?  Just as it was reasonable for Jesus to ask that the suffering that lay ahead, be avoided.

God could do that. God can provide me with a job. God could have said okay enough of this my Son has suffered enough I’ll just find another way to purify my creation so we can avoid the unpleasantness in this pathway. God could, but God didn’t, and He does not.

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT)

Lord this is so hard for us!

Nonetheless, not our will but yours be accomplished in, and through us.

Back to Jesus

The thing is the Father saw the redemption of creation laying before His Son. Jesus subjected Himself to the will of the Father, resulting in the suffering that Jesus pleaded to be removed from His path, but also the redemption of creation and a new covenant between God and humanity.

Because Jesus subjected Himself to the will of the Father, our Lord was awarded an even more profound reward.

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:18-20 (NLT)

All authority resided with the Father. Just as that passage in 1 Corinthians stated, Jesus subjected himself to that authority and as a result that authority was granted to Him setting His name above every other name. That only by this name we can be saved, Jesus Christ, the precious Lamb of God!

He knows our heart’s desire. He understands that given the choice the path we see ahead would be different. He reads the messages of our hearts through His Spirit living in us and the ultimate outcome will deliver the victory over death when we stand before Him, just as it did for our Lord and Savior.

When we don’t know what to pray, God knows our heart. When we don’t understand why this is happening, God is guiding us through that dark valley. When we come to the end of our pleadings and have poured it all out at His feet, Father, “I want your will to be done, not mine.

In His Grace,

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