And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his
disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” And he took with him Peter, James,
and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said
to them, “My soul is very sorrowful even to death. Remain here and
watch.” And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed
that if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said,
“Abba Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me.
Yet not what I will, but what you will.” And he came and found them
sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not
watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.
The spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak.” And again he went
away and prayed, saying the same words. And again he came and found them
sleeping, for their eyes were heavy, and they did not know what to
answer him. And he came the third time, and said to them, “Are you still
sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son
of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going;
see, my betrayer is at hand.”
We all would agree that every Christian needs to establish good
habits or godly habits of spiritual disciplines, whether private or
corporate, or what we call the means of grace. One of the best ways to
cultivate good habits, is to keep looking to Jesus, the author and
finisher of our faith, Hebrews 12. Paul could say, “Be imitators of me,
as I am of Christ.” Even the world that we live in says we should learn
from the best. For the child of God it's easy to figure that out; he's
not just the best of the best, but Jesus is perfect, the perfect one.
And we can follow Jesus when it comes to the discipline of prayer.
disciples on two distinct occasions recognized their need to learn from
Jesus. They come to him on the front end, and more towards the back
end, and they ask the same question, “Teach us how to pray.” When it
comes to prayer, Jesus is more than a teacher, more than a coach
standing on the sidelines; he lived in the trenches of real life and he
showed himself to be a man of prayer. Luke, in his gospel, captures at
least nine distinct occasions where Jesus prayed. So he was, no
question, a man of prayer. We can go through any one of those instances
and we can certainly learn about the prayer life of Jesus.
one place I would go if I had to learn how to pray like Jesus prayed,
would be Gethsemane. The word prayer is mentioned four times in Mark's
gospel, I'm sure it's mentioned at least three or four other times in
the other 3 synoptic gospels, and it brings Jesus prayer life into high
definition. As dark as Gethsemane was, this is where his prayer life
shines the brightest and the clearest. There are five things that we can
learn from Jesus about how to pray.
1. He prayed earnestly. Many
believe the commentary on the prayer in Gethsemane is found in Hebrews.
In Hebrews 5:7 it says, “In the days of his flesh Jesus offered up
prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears.” The cries and the
tears speak of his earnestness. He prayed with great earnestness. His
prayer was a prayer marked with deep earnestness or passion.
He prayed intimately, and the key word there is Abba Father. It's the
Aramaic word. You could even translate it, “Daddy or Papa.” It's very
intimate, it is a word that children would often use when they would run
to their fathers. The Jewish children would run to their fathers, and
when they were in a time of real dire need, “Abba” was the word they
would often put on their lips.
3. He prayed submissively. “Let not my will be done, but your will be done,” not my will but your will.
He prayed perseveringly. He comes to his disciples again and again and
they’re not praying; but he goes back to pray and he prays perseveringly
and there is a number of obstacles here that he has to overcome. There
is physical obstacles, Luke tells us he was sweating drops of blood.
There are emotional obstacles, we know that he was very sorrowful, even
unto death. So he's on the very verge of death, and no doubt spiritual.
We can’t underestimate the devil and there was an attack upon Jesus in
the garden. But it doesn't stop him from praying, he keeps on praying.
That's the point, he keeps on praying. Another obstacle is
discouragement. He comes to his three disciple friends and they are
falling asleep, they are not praying. The biggest and the most major
crisis in his life is right here and his friends aren't there for him.
Jesus has to go it alone. But we shouldn't forget the end result here;
he wins the battle, he goes to the cross, and he dies for sinners.
He prayed effectually. He didn't get delivered from going to the cross,
but God sustains him and gives him the strength he needs to go to the
cross. Would he have gone to the cross without prayer? I don't think so.
He needed help, and Luke tells us the angel came and strengthened him.
So the prayer was answered. Not exactly in the way Jesus might have
wanted, but certainly in the way that would show us it was an answer.
His prayer was heard and answered by God. So you could say this was a
triumphant prayer, an effectual prayer.
We can write over this
whole passage, “Behold the man of prayer.” We are to imitate him. We
can’t imitate him exactly, I realize that, we won’t be facing the trials
that he had to face. But we certainly can pray like him in this sense:
earnestly, intimately, submissively, perseveringly and effectually.
Those are the five marks of prayer. I think that we can certainly learn
from our Lord Jesus in Gethsemane.