Deeper Lessons of Prayer
Text: Matthew 26 : 31 - 56
What deep lessons Jesus sought to teach His disciples. From personal example, and through corrective teaching, He sought to impress on His disciples the need to learn well deep lessons in prayer. He was not done yet. There were other lessons in prayer that He wanted to impart to them. Again, these lessons could only be taught by deed and not mere words.
“Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying,
‘O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless
I drink it, Your will be done.’
And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes
were heavy. So He left them, went away again, and prayed
the third time, saying the same words.”
How deeply Jesus must have sought His Father in prayer! What deep lessons He must have sought to teach His disciples.
1. Vain Repetition
Jesus once taught His disciples that they must not vainly repeat prayers (Matthew 6:7). What is the difference between vain repetition and the way Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane? Let us note the following:-
a) Vain repetition focuses only on the words being uttered.
b) Vain repetition is devoid of spiritual struggle.
c) Vain repetition is nothing more than performing a ritual meaninglessly.
2. Watching in Prayer
Jesus was practising the spiritual discipline of watching in prayer. Let us note the following things.
a) It involves bringing petitions to the Father
i) The cup of suffering and death
ii) The will of God
b) It involves waiting upon the Father to make a reply
i) It would require great sensitivity to the Father to comprehend the reply
ii) It would require a deep and intimate knowledge of God as well
c) Each prayer made is different even though similar words may be used
i) A difference in spirit
ii) A difference in comprehension
iii) A difference in acceptance
d) Subtle “Movement” in prayer
The words that Jesus uttered in prayer may appear to be the same, but when pondered over deeply, we cannot but note that there were some subtle movements in prayer. Let us compare the two great statements Jesus made to His Father.
“O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me;
nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”
O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me
unless I drink it, Your will be done.”
MATTHEW 26:39, 42
i) “If it is possible…”
This phrase represents the offering of the petition and the waiting for God to reply.
ii) “If this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it…”
This phrase represents an important but invisible fact. God had spoken to Jesus in His own unique way. Jesus being sensitive to His Father knew how to sense His Father’s answer to His prayer.
iii) “Your will be done…”
This phrase represents a further movement. Jesus had totally surrendered His personal will to His Father. In place of His human will, He had embraced His Father’s Divine will as His own. With this acceptance, Jesus ended His prayer vigil in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Jesus took another break between His second and third season of prayer. His disciples were sound asleep. He did not disturb them from their sleep for He knew only too well that these deep lessons on prayer were not things that could be learned in a moment. The disciples had obviously not learned their lessons on prayer well. Their flesh had overcome their spirits – at least for the moment!
TIME TO FACE THE BIGGEST TEST YET
The opportunity for the disciples to watch and pray had come and gone. Time waits for no man. The time for prayer was over! What lay ahead was the biggest test yet. Because Jesus prayed much and well, He was able to calmly speak thus to His disciples.
“Then He came to His disciples and said to them,
‘Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand,
and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners.
Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.'”