Summary: Lessons on prayer from Jesus as he prayed the night before his crucifixion.
PASSION’S PRAYER: “YOUR WILL BE DONE”
What does it mean to become a people of the Passion? I don’t think that I have explained what that means fully. I just assumed you knew. To become a people of the Passion is to have, not only the person of Jesus Christ as central in your life and thinking, but to have the cross of Christ in the core of your being. The cross reminds us of Christ’s sacrifice. The cross calls to us and challenges us to follow Christ. Without the cross there is no point in being a church.
What then, is the role of prayer in becoming a people of the Passion? It’s not just prayer. It’s an adjustment, a prayer to change “me,” the “I” into what God wants. Praying this prayer means trading your passions for the Passion. It is a willingness to surrender and to say to God, “your will be done.”
What does a prayer like that look like? It might sound like a preacher in Redrock, Mississippi who prayed this prayer: “Oh Lord, give Thy servant this mornin’ the eyes of the eagle and the wisdom of the owl; connect his soul with the gospel telephone in the central skies; ‘luminate his brow with the Sun of heaven; possess his mind with love for the people; turpentine his imagination, grease his lips with ‘possum oil, loosen his tongue with the sledge hammer of Thy power; ‘lectrify his brain with the lightnin’ of the word; put ‘petual motion on his arms; fill him plum full of the dynamite of Thy glory; ‘noint him all over with the kerosene oil of Thy salvation and SET HIM ON FIRE. Amen!”...
But more likely it would resemble the simple yet moving prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. This is where we find our four challenges in praying the prayer of the Passion Himself. And in between these challenges I want to show you 3 “prayer busters” that keep us from becoming a people of the Passion through meaningful prayer.
1. Praying Through The Pain
Jesus was a person who believed in prayer. This could appear quite odd to us as we profess that Jesus is the Son of God, and therefore equal with God. Why would Jesus need to pray? The answer is simple: Jesus was a man created in the image of God. Humankind was created to live in complete and constant dependence on the Creator. Being a perfect human without sin, Jesus was a perfect example of what our relationship with God should be like.
In the Garden that night, Jesus prayed, not because of his sorrow, but because he always prayed. What a jarring picture though, to see Jesus this way. Our text says, “He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. The he said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death…’”
His sorrow seemed to be multiplied by so many factors. He knew that the appointed time with the Cross had come. Jesus was the only one who could really understand the pain and suffering that seemed to go with that impending destiny. And the weight of such an unimaginable burden, carrying the sins countless generations to the Cross, was so very heavy.
It is in this moment of painful anticipation that Jesus teaches us the necessity of prayer even when difficulties seem intolerable. We are speechless when surgery is the next morning. Words don’t come when sadness chokes your throat and blurs your mind. Prayer is the furthest thing from our minds when our senses are overwhelmed with anguish. But that is exactly when Jesus prayed. He prayed through the pain to his Father on whom he depended for all things.
There is our lesson. Too simple. Too painful. Too true. But if you can do nothing else to pray, to get the words out, at least take on the posture of prayer and cry to Him. We can take comfort in this truth: “…the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express” (Rom. 8:26).
Prayer Buster # 1 – Self-reliance
Why don’t we pray in crisis situations? One reason is the inherent need we have to fix the problem ourselves with our own strength and resources. We call this self-reliance. It comes from a belief that prayer does not change or help the trouble we are in. You have prayed before and nothing happened, so we are compelled to take matters into our own hands. And I can do this myself.
When Jesus was done praying, we read that soldiers came to arrest him. In v. 51 Peter pulls out a sword in defense of Jesus and slices an ear off of a temple servant. Sleeping when he should have been praying, Peter now tries to fight a spiritual battle with a carnal weapon. That is the futility of fighting many of our battles with our own resources. We are fighting unseen forces without the help of God in prayer.