At some point in our lives, all of us have been in a fix that makes us feel like it’s the end of the world. Sometimes we have brought it upon ourselves — not being well prepared for a job presentation due to procrastination, not being able to pay a bill because we handled our funds insufficiently, and the list of possibilities continues. Other times our backs are against the wall because of no fault of our own. Regardless of whose fault it was, however, all we care about in such predicaments is how to get out. Hopefully as believers we opt to pray about it rather than freak out and go ballistic. Whereas prayer is always the best choice, we must also remember not to let our sticky situations cause us to pray inappropriately. Today, we focus on Jesus’ model of effective prayer under pressure. This brings us to our text coming out of Matthew 26:36-44 (KJV):
36 Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. 37 And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. 38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. 39 And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. 42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.
43 And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. 44 And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.
At this time in The Book of Matthew, Jesus is praying to His Heavenly Father about the events to take place in a matter of minutes. Of course Jesus knew that His whole purpose for coming to earth was to be crucified for our sins, but to do so, He had to become God incarnate. In taking on the fleshly form, Jesus still had the ability to sense and experience this world from the human point of view. Because He knew He was about to die, the fleshly part of Him became absolutely terrified, and He knew the best thing to do was to talk to the Heavenly Father. In modern words, it is as though Jesus said, “Dad, I know we already talked about me giving my life for our people, but is there any way we can make other arrangements?”. In doing so, however, Jesus did not forget who He was in service to and made sure to acknowledge the divine plans of the Heavenly Father. He said, “Nevertheless not as I will, but as You will.” This is where our lesson comes in.
No matter how bad the situation we are in, we must never pray inappropriate prayers. By inappropriate I mean prayers that only focus on us and our wants as opposed to focusing on God and His plan for us. It can be so tempting to offer prayers like, “God, I’ll do anything! Just get me out!”. However, Jesus offers us the perfect under-pressure-prayer model in this text:
First, His example lets us know that it is okay to be afraid. We are human. We can know all the scriptures in the Bible and know that God is bigger than any problem, but at the end of the day we still have the human capacity to fear.
Second, being afraid can cause us to call upon God repeatedly over the same thing. That, too, according to Jesus’ example, is okay.
Thirdly, we are totally allowed to let God know the desires of our hearts. Jesus did.
Lastly but most importantly, no matter how fearful we are and no matter how many times we bring our problem to God’s attention, we must ALWAYS remember to ask the Lord for His will to be done. When we are afraid, we can get to asking for any and everything. The problem is that we, as humans, cannot see what is ahead. So whereas we may think we know what the perfect solution is, we could be wrong — hence the necessity to put first the will of the Lord.
Have a blessed day!
The founder of Your Black Poets, Ayvaunn Penn is an award-winning writer pursuing her graduate degrees in dramatic writing and acting. Click to follow her on Facebook and Twitter. To contact her, click here. To have Ayvaunn Penn feature your original poetry on Your Black Poets, click here.