Summary: Facing dangers that are real, fear is normal. It is what we do with it that matters. We should follow Jesus' example in Gethsemane and say what we feel and after that comes submission to the will of God.
DON’T BE AFRAID – PRAY
“God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and discipline.” (2 Timothy: 1:7)
A little girl was afraid she had committed the unpardonable sin, when, like many of us, she sometimes fell asleep when she said her bedtime prayers. She shared this with her pastor and he said, “Why don’t you say your prayers in the morning?” She said, “I’m not scared in the daytime”. She tried to do what we all should do if we face a real danger – take our fear to the Lord in prayer. Someone said, “Courage is fear that has said its prayers.” The first words of the NT story came when the Angel Gabriel told Zechariah, “Don’t be afraid” and “Your prayers have been answered.” (Luke 1)
Prayer is not the answer. Sometimes all we do is, “worry on our knees”. The right kind of prayer is the answer. We need to follow the example of Jesus in Gethsemane. The night before He was arrested, beaten beyond human recognition, and nailed to a cross, He asked God to take this awful cup of suffering away and then He said, “Not what I want, but Your will be done”.(Luke 22:41-46)
The “cup” included far more than crucifixion. Galatians 3:13 says He was “made a curse”. 2 Corinthians 5 says He was “made to be sin” and Isaiah 53 said he would “bear” all the sins” of every human being who ever lived.
None of us knows what all this means. I don’t believe Jesus knew fully what it meant. From the cross He cried out, “My God – why have you forsaken me.” (Matt. 27:46 / Psalm 22:1)
None of the ransomed ever knew
How dark where the waters crossed
When Jesus paid an awful price
To save one lamb who is lost
Praying like Jesus you will SAY WHAT IS TRUE. Tell God what you really want. Jesus asked God to take the cup away. At the close of the Book of Acts Paul was confined just like we are now. He was in jail awaiting trial before Nero, the mad-man Emperor who later burned Christians alive on crosses to light his garden. And he said in Philippians 4:4-6, “Don’t be anxious (worried, afraid) about anything – let your requests be made known to God with thanksgiving”. The Philips translation says, “Tell God what you want.”
The high water mark of praying is – Thy will be done. But we can say this too quickly. If our child is dying, most of us cannot fold our hands and honestly say, “God, if you want to take this child to heaven, do it. He (or she) doesn’t belong to us but to you”. Some people can do this but most of us would be dishonest because we would want to beg God to heal until all hope is gone. We would ask God to take us instead.
But in the end, like Jesus, we must find the courage to SUBMIT TO GOD'S WILL. Jesus said, "Not my will, but Your will be done." Doing this, Jesus broke out in a bloody sweat, and angels had to come and help him. This is how I have tried to pray every time something really bad comes my way. When our first daughter, two years old, went through seven hours of surgery I prayed something like this;
“Lord, please let her live. I’m not too good to lose a child. People a lot better than me have lost children. You didn’t spare your own Son. But you have told me in the Bible to “Let my requests be made known” to you, so I am asking you to please let her live. But if you don’t, please give me the strength to handle it like a Christian should. Don’t let it take away my love for you, my faith or my joy. If you don’t help me Lord, I can’t make it on my own.”
This is hard. Jesus sweat great drops of blood when He did it. Doctors have a medical term for this. It comes in traumas too great to bear and it literally keeps a person from dying. When we pray it, we may not know if we truly mean it but it is best to pray it.
A Christian Army surgeon was operating on a young soldier, when mortar shells started falling close to them. The operating team headed for the shelter but he was making preparations to move the young man. They said, “Doctor, the mortars are too close. You need to come to a place of safety with us. He kept doing what he was doing; looked up and said, “Right now, I am in the safest place on earth – I am in the center of God’s will doing what He is asking me to do.”