Prayer Principles for the Painful Path Ahead in Life (Part 1)

TEXT: Matthew 26:36-44

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.

We are in a series of messages titled “Praying Through the Bible: A Series on Every Passage and Verse Regarding Prayer in the Bible.” The purpose of this series is to encourage and motivate you to pray to the God of the Bible. We highlighted each of these over 500 verses and passages in the Prayer Motivator Devotional Bible. So far, we have completed 147 messages in this series.

This is message #148 titled, Prayer Principles for the Painful Path Ahead (Part 1)

Have you ever faced a decision or a task that you knew at the outset would be difficult, painful, or costly? A task so fear-inducing that you would have opted out of it if you could? Perhaps you can identify with a soldier going into battle knowing that he would die, a woman getting ready to give birth to a child, a believer about to be executed because he refuses to deny his faith, or a person diagnosed with a terminal illness who is faced with a painful path that will only end in death.

What do you do in times like these? What did our Savior do (who was just as human as we are, though divine) when he faced the ultimate path of pain? He prayed.

Today, let’s look at principles from Jesus’ prayer just before he embarked on the quest which he had been sent into the world to fulfill. We enter this passage just after Jesus and his disciples celebrate the Last Supper. At this supper, Jesus institutes the communion ritual, Judas is revealed as the prophesied betrayer, and Peter and the other disciples declare that they would never forsake Jesus Christ. Afterwards, Jesus leads the disciples out of the city.

Notice the place where Jesus went. The Bible says, “Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane…” The name Gethsemane means “olive press.” It is a place filled with olive trees where workers would go to press the olives in order to make olive oil. The imagery of the olives being pressed is significant because the Bible uses the symbolism of the violent crushing of olives or grapes to represent the wrath of God being poured out just as it was about to be poured out on Jesus Christ.

Matthew Henry writes: “At the foot of the mount of Olives, our Lord Jesus began his passion; there it pleased the Lord to bruise him and crush him that fresh oil might flow to all believers from him, that we might partake of the root and fatness of that good Olive. There he trod the winepress of his Father’s wrath, and trod it alone.” It is worth noting that it is in this Garden, on this mount, that the first drops of Jesus’ blood were shed. They were first shed, not when he was on trial nor on the cross, but in prayer at the beginning of his Passion.

Jesus Christ did not go to this place to avoid what was coming. Luke tells us that the Garden of Gethsemane was a place Jesus and his disciples customarily frequented when they were in Jerusalem. We are also told that Judas knew of the place. Rather than running from the painful path before him, Jesus made this place of frequent retreat an impromptu prayer closet.

Now, notice the people Jesus went with. Not everybody could go with Jesus when He prayed as He faced his path of pain. The Bible tells us that He took the eleven disciples that remained after Judas, led astray by Satan, left to play his role as the betrayer. However, Jesus did not even keep all of the eleven nearby. Verse 36 tells us that he “saith unto the disciples [eight of them], Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee [James and John], and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.”

When it comes down to prayer and spiritual warfare, everybody is not equal in the body of Christ. All Christians should engage in prayer, however, there are some who have allowed God to burden them with the special importance and necessity of prayer. For instance, in the Gospel of Luke, we read about Anna, ‘a prophetess, who departed not from the Temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.’ We are not to think that Zachariah, her fellow servant in the Temple, did not fast and pray. But Anna is especially noted for her dedication to these two spiritual disciplines.

When you face your path of pain — be it sickness, death, missionary activity, or persecution — make sure you have the right people around you. First, get rid of anyone who you know is opposed to God’s plan in your life. Judas was out of the picture when Jesus went to pray. A person who is opposed to God’s plan will only try to hinder you from following through with your part in that plan.

Second, keep at arm’s length anyone who does not have the spiritual fortitude to go with you on your path of pain. Notice Jesus’ words to the eight disciples: “Sit ye here while I pray yonder.” Jesus did not even tell these eight to pray. He just told them to “sit.” They had good hearts. They had promised to stand with Jesus until the end. But Jesus knew that they did not have what it took to follow through, so he kept them at arm’s length. John Calvin comments, “By leaving the disciples at a distance, he spares their weakness; as if a man, perceiving that he would soon be in extreme danger in battle, were to leave his wife and children in a situation of safety.”

When Paul was imprisoned and facing execution in Rome, he wanted certain people around him. In Second Timothy, we read that Luke the physician was with him, and that Paul requested that Timothy and Mark come to join him as well. However, he stated that certain other people were out of the picture: for example, Demas, ‘who loved this present world,’ had left him, and Alexander the coppersmith, who had done ‘much evil’ to Paul, was also gone.

There are some people who do not have their hearts in the right place whom you need to let go. Don’t hold on to them and try to hold on to God’s will for your life. If they, like Demas, have their hearts set on some other goal, let them go their way, and you go God’s way. There are also some good-hearted people in your life who believe in God, but simply do not understand what God has planned for your future and they do not have the spiritual maturity to help you along the way. They are like the disciples whom Jesus brought with him to the Garden but told to “sit.” You will have to tell some people in your life to just sit and watch what God will do. Don’t let them try to help you because, even though their hearts may be in the right place, (and by the way, some people who seem to for you, may not have their heart in the right place) they will only slow you down.

Each of us, at some point in our lives, will face one or several painful trials — situations that God calls us to go through that everything within us resists. Just like Jesus, we do not want to experience pain. What do you do in such a time — when God’s will conflicts with what we perceive to be our best interests? We do as Jesus did. We immediately turn the place of pain into a place of prayer. We leave those people behind whom we know are opposed to God’s will, but we take those who are not opposed to God’s will with us as far as their spiritual maturity will allow. When this is done, we can turn fully to the task of prayer.

If the Lord tarries his coming and we live, we will continue this series.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Now, if you are with us today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, your first prayer needs to be what we call the Sinner’s Prayer. First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.

If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. You have done the most important thing in life. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.

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