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This is the Truth Network. Encouraging Prayer. God offers an open invitation for His people to talk with Him at any time about anything. On Encouraging Prayer, Dr. James Banks, author of the bestselling Prayers for Prodigals and many other books on prayer, provides weekly biblical insight to help you learn to love to pray.
And now, here's James. So today on Encouraging Prayer, we're going to talk about really one of the hardest prayers that was ever prayed and also look at what we can learn from it, right, James? That's right, and this is one unanswered prayer that we can honestly be thankful for, and it comes from someone you might not expect.
It comes from Jesus. Well, I never really thought of it that way, but Jesus actually had an unanswered prayer, but you know, in a way it's so true. I mean, we're talking about Jesus' prayer in Mark 14 in the Garden of Gethsemane, and Mark tells us he took Peter, James, and John with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. Right, so Jesus is under extreme stress there in the Garden of Gethsemane, and the interesting thing is that Gethsemane means all of oil press. So Jesus is in the pressing place right before the crucifixion, and what he prays is absolutely astounding.
So, Robby, why don't you keep reading? Sure, Mark 14 35 says, going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. Abba, Father, he said, everything is possible for you.
Take this cup from me, yet not what I will, but you will. And, you know, thinking about that prayer, you can imagine how heart-rending it had to be for the Father to hear that prayer from his perfect Son. I mean, here's Jesus about to go to the cross, and he says, Abba, Daddy, take it away.
And, you know, I mean, that's what Abba means. It's Papa, it's Daddy, and then he says, everything is possible for you. And you know that Jesus knows that, you know? What an amazing prayer that is, because this is Jesus saying, if there is any other way, and there is another way, you know, all things are possible, Father, Daddy, this is so hard.
Oh, right. I mean, everything is possible for you. God could have done that, could have taken it all away, but he didn't, and Jesus yielded to God in all of it, right?
Yeah, yeah, and that's the other part of this. You know, when you think about, he prayed this three times. I mean, just imagine, what would have happened if his prayer had been answered? You and I would still be in our sins, but Jesus was obedient to God no matter what, and this is where we need to see, not only how obedient he was, but also how much his prayer, not what I want, you know, but what you want, matters so much. Yeah, you know, some people think that praying like that shows a lack of faith, but they couldn't be more mistaken, could they?
No, no, they really couldn't, and you hear that sometimes. You know, some people think that if you just believe hard enough, you'll get what you're asking for from God, you know? You just have enough faith, but hey, this is Jesus praying this, right? And no one has more faith than Jesus, and this prayer shows us. I mean, that's not the case at all. Nor should you—I mean, it's not the case at all that, you know, that's a weak prayer to pray.
It's just amazing. Oh yeah, I mean, that's just the thing about this. It takes more than a little faith to pray like this, right? Because Jesus is our example in everything. I mean, we should want to follow him in praying like that.
Right, right. Just look at the trust involved and the love for his Abba Father and for us, and he wouldn't turn back. So James, let's talk about this. I mean, how could you pray this way and make sure you're praying with faith? That's a good question, because I think none of us want to be in that situation where it's like, Lord, if there's any other way, but I think it's good to prepare ourselves for that, especially in this world in which we live in, in which it becomes increasingly difficult to be a Christian.
So I think this starts with our hearts. You know, when we love to do what God wants, it helps us to pray like that. We have to be in that mode, as of course Jesus continually was. So I think a good prayer to start in that direction is, Lord, help me to want what you want. This is a powerful way to pray, because we're bowing to God's wisdom. You know, we're turning from ourselves, turning to him, and that's not easy.
But think about what—yeah, I mean, it's just, I mean, that's the battle we face every day, isn't it? Oh yeah, and you know, that's actually part of the reason I love the Lord's Prayer, because it starts out that way. You know, thy will be done, and tries to align my heart with his. And think about what Paul says in Philippians about, you know, what Jesus did. Because he humbled himself, God exalted him. So I think it really pleases God when we do this. And I also don't think this keeps us from praying hard about what's really on our hearts, you know? I mean, Jesus was doing that, but in the end, he was resolute. He was going to do, you know, what the Father wanted him to do. And he can help us pray like this. I think we just go to him and we ask, you know, Lord, again, help me be more like you in this.
And he really will. You know, as I was thinking about it, James, you said something in the beginning that just really keeps—stays in my mind that, can you imagine how the Father's heart was wrenching in this moment, not like Abraham would with Isaac, right? The same kind of thing. But it never occurred to me that part of why it was so hard for Jesus is he knew what his Father was suffering. Yeah.
Yeah. This moment just goes deep. And I think one of the things that we need to remember about this, when we take a step back, we look at everything that happened. We look at Good Friday, and then we look at the cross, and then the empty tomb, and Jesus conquering sin, conquering death. We have to see that what we want is God's answers to our prayers. Not our answers, you know?
I mean, you couldn't say it better, really. What we want is God's answer to our prayers. You know, that's—he does have the right answer, even though often, you know, it involves suffering. Well, let me close this in prayer, then. Jesus, thank you so much for this prayer, and for the model that it gives us, and of course what you did as a result of this prayer.
Lord, it's mind-blowing for all time, the battle of all time that we all are so grateful for. Lord, help us to see it afresh this Easter, and help us to get to this place of prayer, and delight in you that we can say these very things in complete faith. And I ask this in Jesus' name, amen. You can hear more from Pastor James by visiting his website, jamesbanks.org, or by visiting Peace Church in Durham, North Carolina. May God bless you and encourage you as you pray.
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