BIBLE PRAYERS: A SUBMISSIVE PRAYER IN GETHSEMANE
The Garden of Gethsemane is a place in the Scriptures that I find myself continually revisiting. I am so grateful that the Holy Spirit provided us with this sneak peek into the final hours of Jesus’ life. In this portion of Scripture, we have a chance to witness Jesus’ submission to His Father’s will at a time when it is put to the ultimate test.
It is impossible for any of us to truly comprehend what Jesus was experiencing on the night of His crucifixion. We can attempt to examine various elements of what He would endure and try to form conclusions about what might have been going through His head. But the reality is that we simply cannot grasp what He was going through. None of us have ever—or will ever—experience suffering that comes close to what the Son of God underwent that night.None of us have ever—or will ever—experience suffering that comes close to what the Son of God underwent that night. Click To Tweet
Jesus had just shared His final Passover with His disciples. Luke 22:39 tells us that, “Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him.” It is interesting that the Scriptures highlight that Jesus had a routine of going to this place to pray. However, this night was going to be a time of prayer unlike any He had experienced. Jesus knew where He was headed. He certainly understood the Scriptures that predicted the suffering He would endure. And surely He had received revelation from the Holy Spirit. In fact, He prophesied His own death in Matthew 16:21 in detail.
Jesus understood that His mission on earth was leading Him to the cross. He knew that, not only would He endure incredible pain and suffering in the physical realm, along with betrayal, abandonment and mocking, but He was going to do something that none of us can begin to wrap our minds around: He was going to become sin. (2 Corinthians 5:21) Every sin every committed from the Garden of Eden to the end of time, He would take upon Himself and bear the wrath of God for it. And He had never once experienced sin or felt separated from His heavenly Father for all of eternity.
It is because of all of these factors that Jesus prayed the way that He did that night. In Matthew’s account, Jesus says, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” (Matthew 26:38) The Scriptures record that He sweat drops of blood. Scientists say this is possible through a process called hematohidrosis. The agony that Jesus experienced in the Garden is beyond human comprehension.
With all of that in mind, it is not difficult to understand why Jesus’ request that night was that His Father would allow the cup of suffering to pass if the plan for salvation could be accomplished another way. We see Jesus’ humanity in vivid color in this scene. Not only does He ask God to let the cup pass once, but He prays it three times. Obviously, from the outcome, we can discern that the Father’s answer was, “There is no other way.”
Sometimes we think about Jesus as if He was a superhuman. But the Scriptures say that He emptied Himself of His divine attributes. (Philippians 2:7 NASB) So, although He was completely God, He chose to set those privileges and attributes aside in order to be born as a human and live as one of us. Because of His humanity, Jesus had a choice. In fact, His prayer in Gethsemane clearly shows us that He had a will of His own. He was not a robot, forced to obey God whether He was willing to or not. And He could have just walked away. He could have given up. He could have decided that the cup of suffering was too great a sacrifice, especially since He deserved none of it.
But Jesus, after being told that there was no other way for God to accomplish His will, prayed a prayer of beautiful submission. He prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” (Matthew 26:42) A prayer like this might not seem too significant at face value. But when you consider the fact that Jesus was submitting Himself to torture, a brutal death, and separation from His heavenly Father, it is almost a miracle that He was willing to do it at all.The prayer of submission is a prayer that every believer needs to learn to pray. Click To Tweet
The prayer of submission is a prayer that every believer needs to learn to pray. We come into situations on a regular basis in which what God wants comes into conflict with what we want. What we choose to do in those situations reveals the level of submission in our lives.
Some view submission as oppressive and restrictive. But we were designed to live and find true joy only in a life of submission to God. We were created to be completely dependent on the Lord. The New Testament refers to us as God’s adoptive children. (Romans 8:15) Children were created to depend on and trust their parents. And it is in this place of dependence that we really come into the full realization of who we were created to be.
Understandably, when we talk about submission in relation to other humans, there is often a bad connotation. But when you consider Who we are talking about submitting ourselves to, it should make submission a pleasing prospect. We submit to a God who unconditionally loves us, provides all of our needs, has infinite wisdom, and always has our best interest in mind. So, submitting our lives to Him should be a blessing. He knows how to lead us and guide us. And He has an abundant life available to us.
The prayer of submission is a prayer of complete surrender. It is much more than only spoken words. The evidence of the prayer appears in our actions. Noah prayed this way and submitted his life to God’s plan to build an ark. We do not have his prayer recorded, but one verse says it all: “Noah did everything just as God commanded him.” (Genesis 6:22)
Abraham prayed this prayer and went to a land that he had not previously known. We see this evidenced where Scripture records, “So Abram went, as the Lord had told him.” (Genesis 12:4)
Mary prayed a similar prayer of submission to become the earthly mother of the Messiah when she prayed, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:38) Anyone who wants to truly live for the Lord will have to pray a similar prayer many times along their journey. It is a part of walking in the Spirit and a sign of spiritual maturity.
Even as I write these words, I can feel the spotlight of the Holy Spirit shining on my heart, revealing areas that I still need to submit to the Lord. My prayer for all of us is that we will continually learn to pray the prayer of submission…even when it hurts…even when it involves sacrifice…knowing that it is in that place of true surrender that will we become instruments useful to the Lord for His purposes.
DUSTIN RENZ is the President of Make Way Ministries, a non-profit organization that exists to see the world changed one Christian at a time. He has a passion to see the Body of Christ find rich intimacy in their relationship with Jesus and step out in faith to share the Gospel with the world around them. He is the author of Pile of Masks: Exposing Christian Hypocrisy and Something Better. He resides in Dayton, Ohio with his wife and three daughters.