"He walked away, about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, 'Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine." Luke 22:41-42
On our last trip to Israel, we were privileged to visit a quiet valley, marked by two hillsides, a plowed, empty field, and a dry stream bed. This was The Valley of Elah. At that inconspicuous spot on the map, a stream once flowed through the battlefield, separating the army of Saul and the army of the Philistines. A stone's throw from where we stood, David would slay the giant, Goliath, with a smooth stone taken from this dry creek bed.
When David threw his stone against Goliath, he killed the one man that stood between him and victory. Killing one giant would change the course of his life. When Jesus knelt and prayed, a stone's throw away from his disciples on The Mount of Olives, He secured a victory over evil that would change the course of human history.
Sometimes, the monumental and the miraculous are closer than you think. They are only a stone's throw or a prayer away. Pray like your life depends on it. It does.
For Jesus, the battle was over The Will. Prayer determines whose will is going to win out; God's will or your will. Jesus was honest to God. True prayer always is. Anything less is pious posturing, no matter if it is done in private or public. Jesus opened His heart to God, and expressed the desire of His heart, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup of suffering away from me."
"Yet" is a simple word, and forms a conjunction of sorts. The prayer of Jesus brought Him to the junction of God's will and His will. The next breath of The Son, would determine if He would have the unction of The Father on His life, for the suffering He would face. The Jews and The Romans would see that Jesus endured it, but only prayer could prepare Him to embrace it.
"I want your will to be done, not mine." This brief statement was the turning point in the prayer of Jesus. It was also the turning point in the redemption of mankind. It was here that the real battle of prayer is always fought, at the point of the will. The battle in prayer not against giants of flesh and blood, nor is it even against the devil. It is a battle between MY & THY. My Will must die, in order for Thy Will to live.
Prayer is a battle against self. Prayer brings death upon one's own will in any and every matter brought to The Father. To do less than die to one's own will is to hold on to the flag of rebellion, and to claim ownership over some small sliver of territory in one's own life. Prayer must bring death to The Will, before it can bring honor to The Father.
The Will is the giant in our lives that keeps us from taking part in a victory that only The Father can bring. Jesus learned from experience, that avoiding suffering was a poor way to develop an obedient spirit. One of the most intriguing passages of Scripture describes a process that was part of His life, long before He went to The Garden or The Cross.
"Even though Jesus was God's Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. " Hebrews 5:8 NLT
Suffering for our faith, or even experiencing a mild form of inconvenience, as a result of it, is abhorrent to contemporary Christianity. Jesus not only endured suffering, He embraced it. Jesus in The Garden is more than a stone's throw away from a great deal of contemporary Christianity that claims His name, but doesn't reflect His life.
In his devotional classic, "The School of Obedience," Andrew Murray describes how Jesus prepared Himself for a life of obedience. "Defective obedience is always the result of a defective life. To rouse and spur on that defective life by arguments and motives has its use, but their chief blessing must be that they make us feel the need of a different life, a life so entirely under the power of God that obedience will be its natural outcome. The defective life, the life of broken and irregular fellowship with God, must be healed, and make way for a full and healthy life; then full obedience will become possible. The secret of a true obedience is the return to close and continual fellowship with God."
When crisis, or suffering is in your path, pray your way to it, in it, and through it. The greatest pain that will you will ever suffer is the death of your own will. Coming to the end of your self is not a one time experience, but a way of life. Paul said, "I die daily." It may take more for you and me. If it does, pray until it stops hurting. Dead men feel no pain.
TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!