Summary: We can learn from Jesus how to pray
Morning Devotion Sat. August 20, 2005
Jesus’ Prayer In Gethsemane
Key verse: 14:36
“Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
During this conference we have heard what makes us free: it is Jesus Christ! Jesus makes us truly free. This passage this morning again shows us this freedom, the freedom to be free to do God’s will and how we can be free from our anxiety.
I. Jesus Prays In Gethsemane (32-34; 37-42)
Jesus’ time has come. His capture, his sentence, his death and his resurrection are imminent. Jesus knew what would happen. Before he and his disciples went to Gethsemane where they used to spend the night, Jesus told them that God would strike him, that they all would fall away and that Simon Peter would disown him three times. He also spoke of this resurrection and that he would go to Galilee ahead of them after he had risen from the dead.
Verse 31: “But Peter insisted emphatically, ‘Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.’” Simon Peter did not agree with Jesus’ words. He disagreed all the more when Jesus announced that Peter would disown him three times. He was absolutely sure that he was right and Jesus was not. Could it be that we once had a similar opinion? Well, I did. It often happened that I was of the opinion I could influence things by my good will and my way of thinking. Like Simon Peter, I said and did many things with the idea that I knew better than God – and I think I am not the only one here who did so. Simon Peter, and also the other disciples, should have listened to Jesus.
Verses 37-42: “Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Simon,’ he said to Peter, ‘are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.’ Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him. Returning the third time, he said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!’”
Simon Peter had been so full of self-confidence that he could do everything for Jesus, even die for Jesus. But here we see that the enemy had no problem with him. The reason why shortly hereafter he disowned Jesus three times was that instead of praying, as Jesus did, he slept. Simon Peter was weak when the decisive moment came. And his weakness was his lack of prayer. When the situation became really tense, he wanted to do something, but couldn’t. “The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” Jesus knew this. And therefore he had told all of them, most of all Peter, that they should pray. He should have listened to Jesus! In the decisive situation, Peter had only himself to rely on. And his body was weak.
Surely, we all have had a similar experience. I don’t doubt that there are those among us who can do something for Jesus out of their strong willpower. But there are situations when that is not enough, when our body is simply weak.. Jesus tells us how to overcome. We can overcome by praying, by bringing our fear and our problem to our Father in heaven, just as Jesus did.
From my own experience and from the testimony of the scripture I had to learn that in the hour of persecution all our self-confidence and inner security are blown away.
The human rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King explained his situation after receiving a phone call threatening him with murder:
My strength was gone. I sat at the kitchen table searching for a way of how to disappear without being considered a coward. In this state of utmost exhaustion and complete discouragement I laid down my need before God. With my head in my hands I prayed aloud.
“Lord, I believe that I am fighting for a righteous cause. But now I am afraid. I cannot go any further. I have come to a point where I cannot make it on my own.”
Almost immediately all my fears were gone. My insecurity disappeared! I was ready to face everything. Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered. Nobody entered.
So prayer is the difference between victory and defeat! Jesus went to Gethsemane in order to pray.