Matthew 26: 36 - 43, Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, "Sit here while I go and pray over there." And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me." He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, "What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done." NKJV
I used this story about Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane as a way to encourage you today in your walk of faith and in your prayer life. Please note that Jesus was asking the Father to let the cup pass from Him. Even though, earlier in the Gospels, He had said that He was sent to suffer and die on the cross, we read here that Jesus still prayed for the cup of suffering to pass from Him.
Jesus was praying a prayer that diametrically opposed God's will...and He asked this request of God three times. However, after the third time He knew the answer. Jesus woke up His sleeping disciples and told them that His betrayer was at hand. Isn't it interesting that shortly after Jesus prays a prayer that God doesn't answer in the way Jesus requested, the betrayer shows up on the scene?
Over the years of being a pastor, I have had many occasions where people would ask about their unanswered prayers concerning an infirmed loved-one. You guessed it; their loved-one died. Consequently, this tragedy left the believer wondering where God was and why He allowed it to happen. The Lord gave me specific instructions to write this word for someone today. If you have prayed for a friend or family member, and the Lord took them into His presence, you could easily become discouraged, lose heart, and lose your faith in the power of prayer.
However, let's look at this principle from a different perspective. We have the desire to see everyone come through sickness and be made whole. I have seen or heard of many that were terminally ill, and God heard the prayers of the righteous and saved those who were at death's door. Nevertheless, there may be those times when you pray for someone, and it will appear as though God didn't even hear your prayers. God had a bigger picture in mind when Jesus prayed, and He may also have a bigger purpose in mind when your requests didn't seem to get past your mouth.
The Lord doesn't always let us know the outcome of certain prayers because there are things that He knows, but we can't handle or understand that information at the time. Therefore, He will give us the opportunity to trust in His will and judgment. Even so, if we should disagree with His answer, or if His answer doesn't fit our desire, the enemy will use that breech in our fellowship to bring in the betrayer. You will know he has arrived if you find very little or no desire to pray after the passing of someone you love.
When Jesus was about to depart from the disciples and return to heaven, He told them that He had many things to discuss with them, but they were not able, at that moment, to bear the news. He went on to tell them that the Holy Spirit would come and be with them and in them, and He would guide them into ALL truth. When God is silent concerning our unanswered prayers, we must rely on the Holy Spirit to empower us to one day face the truth. In the meantime, we must go on trusting our heavenly Father.
Jesus concluded His prayer with "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." Ultimately, at the end of a prayer for a serious situation, we must leave the outcome in the hands of the Father, knowing that we have done everything we could for the person in need.
The Lord is my Rock,
Pastor Asa Dockery