A Scary Prayer
Brent Van Elswyk, Associate Pastor of Families & Counseling
April 16, 2014
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is when Jesus prays in the garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:32-42). I go to this story frequently to remind myself of God’s love and of His sovereign providence over my life. (And I frequently recommend this passage to others that they might see the extent of God’s love and His sovereign control over their lives, too.) I believe there is something that Jesus is doing in this prayer that changed him and it seems to always change me too when I am reminded of Jesus’ prayer.
What is it Jesus is doing? He is surrendering and submitting himself to not only God’s goals but to God’s methods! In other words, Jesus is accepting not just what God wants to do but how He wants to do it! While in full agreement with the goal of providing salvation for God’s people, Jesus was seeking to agree with the means to accomplish that end. It wasn’t what God was going to do, but how he was going to do it that was giving Jesus a problem that night in the garden.
Jesus is surrendering to God’s methods and that was a “scary prayer” for it led to his taking on Himself the sins of the world and His separation from the Father!
Jesus entered the garden distressed, anguished and full of sorrow looking for ways to escape the cross. He left the garden determined, confident and trusting, moving forward to the cross!
What prompted the change? In his prayer, Jesus surrendered His will to not only God’s goal of providing salvation for His people, but also to His method of providing that salvation! He is, in effect, saying, “I trust you Father, no matter what. I know that your desires are ultimately my desires. Do what we both know must be done.”
Maybe you are in a similar situation. You may be in much agony and distress with what is going on in your life (or in the life of someone you love) and while you know God is in control and has something good planned (Jer. 29:11), you still struggle with what is happening! You may not be questioning what God is doing but you certainly are questioning how He is doing it!
Whatever it is, you say to yourself, “Surely God doesn’t want me to be in the middle of this mess!” But this is where you are! And that is right where God wants you! That’s where he can begin to change you, as you go to Him with a “scary prayer” of surrender to what He is doing.
The struggle is that we don’t know exactly what it will take to accomplish God’s goals in our life or in another’s. The problem is not in praying for the goal, nor in praying for quick and easy solutions. The problem comes when we do not prepare ourselves for whatever method God deems necessary to achieve that goal!
Jesus was preparing himself not just for the cross but for the utter pain and separation he would endure by taking sin on Himself. Could it be that we sometimes don’t understand or accept the will of God because we have not prepared ourselves for the method God plans to use to achieve His goal? Are you willing to pray, “God do whatever you think necessary to…?” That is a scary prayer, for we don’t know what God needs to do to accomplish His goal.
God says, “Come to me, honestly and transparently, but come to me. Draw on my strength. I have your best at heart and I know what is best for you.” God knows that it is ultimately better for you to get His will rather than your way!
And that is how I am reminded of God’s love and providential care over every aspect of my life. God is in complete control over everything! There is no circumstance, no event, no catastrophe, no difficulty that enters my life outside of the realm of God’s control and love. He will use whatever is necessary to accomplish His good and perfect will and as long as I’m willing to pray a “scary prayer”, I will keep surrendering my will to His will.