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What Gethsemane Teaches Us About Prayer - Life of Christ Part 93

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
December 21, 2023 8:00 am

What Gethsemane Teaches Us About Prayer - Life of Christ Part 93

So What? / Lon Solomon

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Now, maybe you've heard the story about the Sunday school teacher who was asking her little pupils about what their habits were before they ate meals in their home, and the teacher said, you know, how many of you guys pray and say grace before you eat? Most of the little hands all went up, but there's one little boy there named Johnny, and Johnny's hand didn't go up, and so the teacher turned to Johnny and said, Johnny, in your family, don't you guys pray before you eat? And he said to her, he said, no, teacher, he said, you don't have to.

He said, my mom's a good cook. Now, of course, we all understand that the reason you pray is not to make the food okay when you go to the home of a bad cook, but if we were to turn the thing around and ask the average Christian, okay, well, why do you pray then? I mean, what is prayer for then?

It would be interesting, I think, to see what kind of answers we got. What do you think the average Christian would say to you if we said, now, what's prayer really for? Probably the most common answer we would get is that prayer is for changing stuff.

You know, I don't like my job, I don't like my boss, I don't like things in my family, I'm not happy with my health, I don't like my finances, you know, I don't like my neighbors and I got this problem and that problem and that problem, change it, God. That's prayer. Or maybe my friend has got problems, change it for them, God. Now, that's a legitimate reason for prayer.

There's nothing wrong with that. Prayer is about changing things, and that's okay. Maybe even if you ask some Christians, you'd get some answers that would indicate they have a little deeper understanding of prayer, that there is prayers of confession and prayer of cleansing and there's prayers where you praise God and thank God and you worship God.

And all of those, like I say, are legitimate purposes for prayer, but there's another major purpose for prayer that we haven't mentioned and that I'm not sure the average Christian would mention, and it's yet one that we see displayed here in the Garden of Gethsemane where we're studying together in the Gospel of Matthew. It's a purpose for prayer that we see really highlighted and with the spotlight on it here that I want to point out to you. And this is not the prayer of changing things and not the prayer of intercession for other people, but this is what I like to call the prayer of realignment.

If you're not sure you understand what that means yet, stick with me and I'll try to explain it to you. The prayer of realignment. And we see it here in the life of Jesus Christ and if you and I as Christians could learn to get a hold of this kind of praying and practice it in our lives, it would radically change the level of success that we experience in terms of living for God every day.

So let me see if we can describe it for you and see if we can convince you that this is the kind of prayer you ought to be praying as a Christian. Right here in Matthew 26, we're in verse 36, let me give you a little bit of background. Jesus has had his last meal with his disciples. He's gone out the eastern gate of the city of Jerusalem across the Kidron Valley up onto the Mount of Olives.

He's entered a little olive oil processing area up there called Gethsemane. And while he's there, he finds himself in deep personal crisis. Now look, verse 36, Jesus went to the disciples to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to them, sit here while I go over there and pray. And he took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, James and John, along with him and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. And he said to them, my soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Now the crisis that Jesus was facing was a crisis that came because he knew what was ahead of him. He knew that that evening he was going to be betrayed by a friend, he was going to be deserted by his disciples, the Roman soldiers were going to take him, he was going to be tried, he was going to be mocked, he was going to be beaten. And then he was going to be executed using the cruelest form of execution known to man, crucifixion. But on top of all of that, was going to be the spiritual trauma of having the sin of the whole world laid on him. And he was going to pay for that as the Lamb of God. Dear friends, this was the pivotal point in the life of Jesus Christ.

This was the crucial moment in his whole earthly life. If Jesus Christ had turned back here, if he had refused to go to the cross from here, everything else he had done would have made no difference. All the miracles, all the sermons, all of the healings, all the nice things he did for people would not have made one bit of difference, because none of those things could pay for our sins.

None of those things could open the gateway for us to be forgiven by a holy God. None of those things could purchase eternal life for us, only his death on the cross as the Messiah, the Son of God, only that could accomplish these things. And that's why Jesus said in Matthew chapter 20, he said, I didn't come into the world to be served, but I came to serve you. And here's what I came to do, and to give my life as a ransom for many. Jesus did not come into the world to be a healer, a teacher, a philanthropist or humanitarian. He came into the world to be a ransom for the sin of the world and the sight of a holy God. And that's why Isaiah 53 says, all of us like sheep have gone astray. Each one of us has turned to his or her own way, there's the problem, the solution, and God has taken our sin and laid it on him, the Messiah.

That's the solution. I'd like to just take a little break here and say if you're here this morning, and you've never trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, to say to you that, hey, I understand what the world out there says about who Jesus really is. People out there will say, well, Jesus is a great teacher, and he was a great teacher, but that's not the point. And people would say, well, you know, but he was a great humanitarian, and he was a great humanitarian, but that's not the point. People say, well, he was a really holy man.

And that's true, but that's not the point. None of those things, humanitarian, healer, philanthropist, teacher are the real essence of what Jesus Christ came into the world to be. Jesus Christ came into the world to be what John the Baptist called him.

John the Baptist caught the essence of why Jesus came. He said, behold, the Lamb of God, who comes to take away the sin of the world. And if you've embraced Jesus Christ as a great teacher, a great humanitarian, a great philanthropist, a great holy man, because that's the cheap explanation of him the world has given you, I would like to tell you none of those things really get to the essence of why Jesus came for you. He came to be your Lamb of God who paid for your sin. And until we embrace him as the Lamb of God, we don't get the benefits of eternal life and forgiveness of sin and access to heaven. They come when we embrace Christ not as a humanitarian, a teacher, a philanthropist, or a holy man, but we embrace him as the Lamb of God. If you're here and you've never embraced him as the Lamb of God, I hope you'll think about that. Don't accept the cheap explanation the world gives for who Jesus is.

Accept God's explanation, the Lamb of God. Well, here we have Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Messiah, in a profound personal crisis. And the crisis is where the will of God is clearly over here in one direction, taking him to the cross.

And his human will is over here in the other direction, clearly not wanting to go to that destination. And this is what the night that he spent in Gethsemane is all about, that incredible crisis. Last week we talked about that crisis and we said Jesus resolved the crisis by making the decision to do it God's way, by making the decision to submit his human will to the will of God and to go to the cross. And we said that as Christians, when we face these kinds of crises in our lives, and we all do, where God's will is going one way and we're going the other way, that God wants us to resolve it the very same way Jesus resolved it, by making the decision to submit our will to the will of God.

Now that's great. Last week we talked about that, but the question we didn't answer last week was how. I mean, how do we as Christians get ourselves to the point where we can reconcile our will and God's will so we can go in the same direction? How as Christians do we get to the point where we can tame our rebellious human nature? What's the process that we go through to wrestle our human nature to the ground and pin it and make it say uncle to the will of God? Remember, I've told you a preacher's no good if he doesn't tell you so what and how.

He's no good. And so I want to talk to you about how. How are we going to do this? Well, I'm glad to report to you that God has given us a way to deal with this. God has given us a way to reconcile our human will and the will of God and we find the answer right here in the Garden of Gethsemane. Look, Jesus went into the Garden of Gethsemane. What did he say? He was sorrowful. He was trouble. He was in anguish. And he came out of the garden.

How? Resolved, determined, at peace, strong, resolute. Never again does the Bible indicate there was the slightest hesitation that he ever had about the cross. So he went into the garden out of sync with the will of God. He came out of the garden in sync with the will of God.

What did Jesus do in the garden that made that difference? Well, he didn't go to a seminar, did he? Didn't read a book, did he? Didn't listen to any tapes, did he? Wasn't listening to Christian radio, was he? What did he do in the garden?

The only thing he did was what? Pray. Look, verse 39, going a little farther, he fell on his face to the ground and he prayed. And he said, Father, if it's possible, may this cup be taken from me. Father, we've got a gap problem here, a gap between my will and your will. We've got a gap here.

And we need to fix this gap, yet not as I will, but as you will. Then he returned to his disciples and he found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, you couldn't even keep watch with me for one hour?

Watch and pray so that you won't fall into temptation because the spirit's willing, but the flesh is weak. And then he went away a second time and he prayed and said, my Father, if it's not possible for this cup, the cross, to be taken away unless I drink it, then may your will be done. And when he came back, he again found them sleeping because their eyes were heavy so he left them and he went away one more time and he prayed a third time saying the same thing. How did Jesus Christ win the battle between the will of God and his human will being out of sync? What process did he use? Well, the only thing he did in the garden was pray.

That was it. And Jesus, would you notice, didn't just pray once or twice. This wasn't a now I lay me down asleep kind of prayer deal that was going on here. Friends, he went over and over and over and over and over to prayer. How long did this last in the garden?

We don't know. At least an hour because when he came back to Peter the first time he said, Peter, I've only been gone an hour and you guys are asleep already. So was it two hours? Was it three hours? Was it four hours? Nobody knows for sure. But it was more than one hour that Jesus was involved in going back and praying and going back and praying and going back and praying.

Why? Because slowly but surely his human will was being retuned. It was being ratcheted around until it lined up with the will of God. So by the time he walked out of the garden, his will and the will of God were in perfect alignment.

That's not how they started. And the point is that Jesus's prayer life in the garden of Gethsemane was not an act. We think of prayer as an act. I prayed. It was an act. This was a process.

This was not an act. This was a process of an hour or two hours or three hours or more during which time supernaturally God took an out of sync human will and made it an in sync human will. He said, but Lon, you know, I got to say to you, this really upsets me. This really damages my understanding of who Jesus was. If he was God in the flesh, how can I respect his integrity being God in the flesh when he goes through something like this?

How could God in the flesh go through something like this? Well, friends, remember, temptation, temptation is not sin. To be tempted to go in a different direction from God is not sin. It's only sin when you give into it and actually go. But to actually face a conflict of will, the Bible never says that sin. And the Bible in fact says in Hebrews chapter four, verse 15, that Jesus Christ was tempted in every way just as you and I are. Are you and I ever attempted to go away from the will of God? Do we ever feel like Jonah where God appears to us and said, Hey, I want you to go east to Tarshish and we want to go down and get on the first ship going straight west. How you ever feel like that? Well, the Bible says Jesus knows what that feels like because he was tempted in the very same way.

That's okay. Yet the verse goes on to say without sin. Yet without sin. He went through that process and ratcheted around his will so he came out doing the will of God.

This presents no problem with Jesus Christ being God. It just means he's much better able to identify with the struggles you and I go through. He's been there.

He understands. Friends, the victory of the cross, I hope you understand this, was won in the garden. If you want to know why Jesus ended up on the cross, you need to look at the garden. That's where the victory happened on his knees. That's where Jesus is human will was brought into perfect alignment with the will of Almighty God. This is where the battle was fought. This is where the battle was won. From here, we never have Jesus hesitating or deviating again. And the process he used for victory was prayer. In the same way, the battle between your human will and the will of God will not be won out in the marketplace.

It will not be won out in the world. It'll be won on your knees long before you ever go out and act your decision out in time and space. You say, but Lon, I never go to my knees and pray about that kind of stuff.

Well, let me tell you something. If you don't, I guarantee you that's why when you go out in time and space, you lose a lot more battles than you win because the victory is not one out there. It's one on your knees before you ever leave your house. That's where you win the victory. That's where Jesus won it.

Not on the cross, but in the garden. Now, that's the end of our passage, but it leaves us with a question. And what's the question? So what?

What difference does this make to my life, Lon? Well, I want to tell you. Everybody sees our piano. We have a nice piano.

It's black. It's a piano, you know. And Dean has been coming to me recently and saying, Lon, we need a new piano.

I go, why, man? What's wrong with the old piano? Old piano sounds fine. No, we need new piano. I'm like, Dean, you don't need a new piano. How much is a new piano?

You know, he tells me. I go, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. No. No, we don't need a new piano. It sounds fine.

Frank plays it. It sounds great. And Dean said, Lon, if you could say that, that's exactly why you'll never be in my choir.

Okay. Well, it sounds great to me anyway. He said, yeah, the reason it sounds great is because every three weeks to one month, we have to tune it. The piano has gotten older and it won't hold a tune.

It keeps slipping out of tune. Now, you know where the piano came from? It came from East Germany. And it was kind of cool to have an East German piano. You know, I'd be able to say to people, hey, you know, the whole church is doing terrible, but we do have an East German piano.

Bet you, you don't have one of them. Dean said, Lon, it was great 20 years ago, but it's not great anymore. And the thing keeps sliding out of tune. You know, we tune it up.

It's right. Three weeks later, the thing's out of tune again. We're spending a fortune tuning the piano. We need another one.

Well, that's another discussion. But after that little altercation that he and I had, I was riding home and I thought, you know, God, I was thinking about it and I thought, you know, I'm just like that piano, spiritually. I'm just like that piano. I mean, I'm always slipping out of tune. You know, you'll tune me up and I'll be fine. And before I know it, I'm out of tune again. You know, you'll tune me up and I'm out of tune again. And I wish I could tell you friends that I only need one of these tune ups every three or four weeks, like the piano, but it's not true. I can go out of tune six, eight, 10, 12 times a day.

Now you laugh, but I'll bet you, if you're honest, you can too. For me, all it takes is a stop sign or a speed limit sign and I'm out of tune. I mean, little stuff can do this. And then there's the big stuff, huh? I mean, every life has a Gethsemane or two where it is a knock down, you know, drag out, last man standing, fight to the finish between you and God, where, you know, he's going to have to hog tie you and throw you down before you're doing what he tells you to do. You've had a few of them. I've had some of them.

Well, what do you do when you get one of those things? I mean, I feel like the song, prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. I mean, I'm just wired this way. You know, out of tune is easy for me. So how do I retune myself? Because I'm always in need of it.

How do I realign myself? Well, what did we learn this morning? Isn't it prayer? God has given us as Christian a mechanism to deal with the problem and the mechanism, the way he's created is prayer, prayer of realignment. You say, how does it sound, Lon?

It sounds something like this. We get on our knees and we say, God, I know your will is right here. I know what it is. I understand it, but God, the problem is I'm way over here. We got this huge gap here, God. And what I need you to do, God, is supernaturally work on my heart so that what begins happening is this gap begins closing and my will begins turning so that eventually your will and my will, there's no gap between us and we're perfectly aligned.

So by the time I walk out into real life, I'm walking out there aligned with you and there is no gap anymore. That's the prayer of realignment. And don't ask me how, because I don't know how, but somehow God changes us when we pray like this. I don't know how he does it, but I know he does it. He realigns our heart.

He retunes our will so that we end up in perfect alignment with the will of God, even though we didn't start that way. And the neat thing about prayer that I'm here to tell you today is prayer not only changes things, it does, but folks, if you use it right, prayer will change you. It'll change you. Man, you talk about the ultimate attitude adjustment. I mean, if you want the greatest attitude adjustment hour going in the world, you're not gonna find it in some bar or some pub between five and seven on weekdays. You'll find it one hour on your knees. You want the greatest attitude adjustment in the world, you spend an hour with God on your knees praying the prayer of realignment and you'll have it.

That's it. What are some of the areas of life where we might need these attitude adjustments? Let's talk about a few of them and bring it down to real practical terms.

Where this huge gap tends to exist. How about forgiveness? There's a good one. Huh? You know, we know what God says. God says, as a Christian, that he has forgiven us so much that we do not have the right to refuse to forgive anybody, anything. You know the Bible says that and if you don't go upstairs and get my tapes on forgiveness and I'll tell you that's what the Bible says, it's true.

The problem is that after your wife does that to you or your husband does what he did to you or your parents did to you what they did or your child does what your child does or your boss treats you the way your boss treats you or somebody at work knives you in your back, where you end up is you don't end up over here where you know God is. You end up way over here saying things like, after what they did to me? After doing that to me? After treating me like that?

Are you kidding? Forgive them? You're out of your cotton picking mind. And so we got a gap problem, don't we? Now how are you going to fix that problem? How are you going to fix that problem? The only way I know to fix it is to get on your face before God and say, God, I got a big gap here.

And I don't know how to close it, but God, you've got to change my heart and close this. You say, can God do it? Of course he can do it.

He does it all the time. Folks, I want to tell you something. If I can forgive a Jewish mother, you can forgive anybody. Trust me, it can be done.

Here's another one. How about sexual purity for a little gap problem? I mean, we know what the will of God is. If you know anything about the Bible, you know what the will of God is.

You know what God says about sex outside of marriage and sex before marriage. I mean, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to know this. But hey, what about our human nature and our human will? I mean, hey, you know, I mean, we're like a runaway freight train. You know how that works. I have couples that come in my office, you know, because they want me to marry them.

And I always insist they come in for a little interview because I'd like to know who they are. And we talk and, you know, we go through all the deals and how many people are coming down the aisle and where the candelabras are going and all this good stuff. And when we get through talking about all this stuff, and I say, have any more questions?

No, no, no, we're fine like that. I say, okay, I got one question for you. Now if you come in to see me to get married, come in expecting this question because you're going to get it. I always say to them, I got one question for you.

Oh, okay, cool, no problem. I say, here's my question. I want to know how it's going with you guys physically. And they'll say, uh, physically? What do you mean?

These people aren't stupid. So I said, all right, well, kind of let me cut to the chase here. Are you guys having intercourse or aren't you? Oh, that kind of physical. Yeah, that kind of physical. And you know, I never look at the guy when I asked that question.

I look right in the girl's eyes and I know the answer before he ever opens his mouth. You know, I'm running right now about 80% of the couples that come to see me are having sexual intercourse. Say, what?

Are you kidding? They come to this church? Uh-huh.

They go through our premarital counseling? Uh-huh. They sit in here and live? Uh-huh. Eight? Uh-huh. Say, does that shock you?

No, because I understand about the runaway freight train. I mean, that's real. So we work on this together as a couple. And I say, hey, we got a contract here. We're going to sign a contract if you want me to marry you. And the contract says, you know, there's no touching below the neck. And I always have some smart aleck who says, does that mean we can't hold hands if it's hanging down below our neck?

We have to walk around like this. Say, no, man, you know exactly what I'm talking about. And I said, you report into me every Sunday and if you break the contract, I'm not going to marry you. And then you tell your mother where I am.

I'm not going to tell her. You explain why I'm not there. I'm not going to marry you guys unless you guys are going to go into this honoring God. But then I say to him, you know, the problem is, folks, I can give you this contract and I can threaten you with not showing up, but that's not the problem. The problem is we got a big old gap on the inside of you between where do you know God is.

These people aren't stupid. They come in there knowing where God is on this issue. And where your will is and what you really need to do more than anything else is leave here, go get on your knees and stay there. I don't care how long it takes you until the two of you as a couple can bring your will into agreement with the will of God and agree, we're not doing this because Lon made us do it, we're doing it because it's right and we want to do it. And God will help you do that. And there's lots of other areas, right, where we run into gap problems. I mean, how about in terms of returning good for evil?

That's a tough one. How about in terms of impeccable integrity in business? I don't do a lot of business stuff, but I've done enough to know that so many times you can have a business deal hanging there where you know that if you just did a little bit of something unethical, just a little bit of something a little that you know God wouldn't be happy with, you can make a ton of money. I mean, but it wouldn't take but just a little and you can make buku bucks. Where are you going to fix that problem to decide whether you're going to let those bucks go and obey God or not?

Man, I'm going to tell you something, if you try to gut that one out, your flesh is probably going to win and you're going to end up going for the bucks. You better get on your knees and pray that prayer realignment, let God bring your will into agreement with his on this. And whether it comes to cheating on exams in school or maybe God moving you, I ran into somebody who, you know, I mean, how would you like to get moved to Minnesota this month? I mean, get real, would you? I've heard in the paper, you know, people's eyebrows are freezing off. Did you read that? This is true. This lady said in the paper that her eyelashes freeze and they crack and break off. How would you like to God to come to you and say, hey, we're moving you to Minnesota this month?

Think you'd have a little gap problem. Why would any normal person want to live up there? Well, I don't know.

That's why all the Scandinavians that came here, they all went to Minnesota, I guess. I don't know. You know why I have the worst one of these gap problems when it comes to money? Finances.

That's where I have a real one. Because I've got God's will over here, you know, with the priorities for our finances. You say, you know, how did you get that? Brenda told me.

I mean, it's real simple. She said, Lon, here are our priorities. It's this and this and this and this and this and this and God has spoken. Oh, okay.

Sounds good to me. But see, that's not my priority, gang. I got news for you. I mean, you know, God's over here with Brenda and I'm over here saying, yeah, but I want a little red sports card at the top goes down on. You know, I mean, you know, I'm having a midlife crisis.

I don't mind telling you. And it's okay, you know, but I don't want earrings. I don't want to shave my chest. I don't need gold chains or anything like that.

I don't want to wear shirts open down to my belly button. I just want a little red car I can run around in. And if I'm going to have a midlife crisis, I want to have some fun with it.

You know, why should it be depressing? So give me my little car and I won't bother anybody. Well, that's not where God is on this deal. My little red car is way down on the list.

In fact, my little red car, I'm not even sure is on the list, frankly. So where am I going to fix this gap? Because Brenda's right. She's absolutely right.

You know, saving for college, saving for retirement. You know, I mean, this is right. I'm not arguing that she's right, but I'm not there. Where am I going to get tuned?

Not in a Mazda dealership, I guarantee you that. It's going to be on my knees. And that's how God brings me around and says, you know, she's right. That's where you need to be, Lon.

I don't care what you feel like. This is what we're doing. See, my problem is as soon as I pass one on the street, I'm out of tune again. And we got to go through this whole process again. But it's prayer that does it. And you know what, friends? Most of us don't know anything about this kind of praying. We just gut it out.

That's all. We just straight gut it out in our human nature. And the problem with this is this is a spiritual battle. This is not a human battle. This is a spiritual battle. And God has made spiritual weaponry for us to use. But a lot of times we don't access his spiritual weaponry.

We try to fight it out with physical weapons. It won't work. That's why we lose as often as we do. But there are spiritual weapons and they'll work if you'll give God a chance. God will supernaturally change your will and your heart if you'll give him a chance. God will bring you into alignment with his will before you ever walk out of your house if you'll give him a chance. And God will retune you as the day goes on if you'll give him a chance. Most of us as Christians maybe never thought about this as part of prayer, but it is.

It's a very important part. And that's a part I hope that you'll practice because you'll win a lot more battles, if you will. I hope you'll let the Word of God take your life, your everyday life, and change you, change you for your good and his glory as a result of what we talked about here today.

Let's pray. Thank you, Lord Jesus, that the Bible tells us that you were tempted in every way the way we are, yet without sin. That you understand the struggle that we so often go through.

Even like Jonah, when you say go east, we want to go west. And thank you that you have given us a supernatural mechanism to deal with this. Supernatural weaponry to win the battle and that it's simply prayer for realignment. And Father, I'm glad that we don't have to know how it works.

The only thing that's important is that it works, and it does. So whether it's in forgiveness, whether it's in sexual fidelity and purity, whether it's in finances, whether it's in the guidance of God, or business ethics, or cheating in school, or whatever it is, where we find ourselves out of sync with you, I pray, God, that you would teach us as Christians to access the mechanism you've given us to bring our will back into alignment with yours. The prayer of realignment. Help us to use that, Lord, so that we might live lives that are more authentic, so that we might be able to go out into this world system where people are watching and make a difference for you.

Change our lives by what we've heard here today, I pray in Jesus' name. Amen. Amen. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-21 10:23:54 / 2023-12-21 10:37:29 / 14

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