“And He said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.’” (Mark 14:36 NKJV)
Prayer is a strange thing. God told Solomon that He had heard, and answered, his prayer to sanctify the Temple. Solomon was a good guy, and all, but he had a lot of problems. Still, God heard and answered Solomon’s prayer. When Jesus prayed in the garden, though, it’s like God the Father turned a deaf ear to Jesus’s requests. Purists among us might note that Jesus included a very popular “out” in His prayer request when He said, “…not what I will, but what You will.” As we look at His prayer, though, we note that Jesus was praying for the opposite of His purpose in life. He had come to suffer and die, as He had taught His disciples. He had come to pay the penalty for sin so that all could fellowship with God. As He approached that reality, though, the reality overwhelmed Him. He knew that the Father wouldn’t grant His prayer when He prayed; He was being honest about His feelings. The ultimate purpose of Jesus’s prayer wasn’t to get out of the crucifixion, it was to strengthen His relationship with the Father.
Why do we pray? So often our prayers seem to be an attempt to get God to conform to our will, our desires. We tell God what we want, whether it be material things, spiritual things, or prayers for healings, and then wait for God to hear us and say, “Oh wow! I didn’t think about that. Let me take care if that right now…or maybe in a little while.” Sometimes our prayers could be seen as a way of demanding something from God. While I do believe God answers our prayers, I think sometimes He gives us the desire to pray for how He plans to answer. We’re told to pray, expecting God to answer, and so we should, but the greatest motivation behind our prayers should be a desire to grow closer to the Father so that we can continue to thrive in His world.
Lord, I want to know You more. As I go through today and speak to you, remind me that You are with me always.