And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mar 14:36 ESV)
The time of the cross was imminent. The suffering had begun. Christ had entered the Garden of Gethsemane and pulled aside to pray before the events of the night. As I was reading Mark 14 today, I was struck by four observations that we also could incorporate into our prayer life.
The Relationship with the Father
Jesus started his prayer with, “Abba! Father!” A cry of endearment in one of life’s most horrible circumstances. The God-Man struggles with what is to come. He calls out to his Father indicating the closeness of the relationship they have. It is a call that we also are able to utter because we have the Spirit of the Son within us. (Galatians 4:6). Those who are not sons, without the Spirit of the Son, cry out but in vain. There is no intimate relationship with the sovereign Father. Just as our earthly fathers would listen closely to the cries of their children, how much more will the heavenly Father listen to our cries of distress?
The Recognition of the Father’s Power
“…All things are possible for You…“
Even when the sovereign hand of the Lord seemingly falls heavy on us in suffering and affliction, it is good to focus on the might of the Almighty. Never has the character of God been more precious to me than when I find myself in deep sorrow or suffering. Never more have I clung to his power than in those times as well. Not only is my Father in intimate relationship with me, he is all-powerful – and I must remind myself of that often.
The Revelation of Our Heart’s Desire
“…remove this cup from Me…”
It is not wrong to ask for release for the circumstances. How great a disservice has the Church been when we simply counsel the sorrowful or suffering to simply “accept” their lot in life. God is big enough for me to cry out in pain and ask for release and relief. Our suffering Savior identifies with us in that pain, for He has suffered before. The inclined ear of the all-powerful Father always hears the sorrowful cry of his children. Call out to God in your pain. Express your desire to be removed from it. Recognize the Father for who he is.
The Relinquishing of Our Will
“…Yet not what I will, but what you will...”
Here is the key to our cry: submission. Yes, our Father’s hand sometimes is heavy, and the circumstances unbearable, they seem. But ultimately we must get to the place of submission to the will of God. Resting in the knowledge that he can change the circumstance at a moments notice. Embracing the fact that if the sorrow and suffering do not go away that somehow he is achieving a greater glory as a result. This is the most difficult observation of the prayer. Submission is not natural, it is supernatural.
May we apply these four observations to our own prayer life. May we counsel others to pray with these in view as well. May we also embrace the suffering Savior, who going before us, knows our weakness and can identify with our affliction. May we resolve to model our lives after the Example of our Christ who was deeply grieved in the Gethsemane Garden.