What does it take to get you to pray? C. S. Lewis wrote that pain is God’s megaphone. His call to prayer through the troubles of life is unmistakable. “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world,” Lewis wrote in The Problem of Pain.
Jesus was not deaf to the call of God. In the great crisis of his human life, he prayed, fervently and desperately, in the Garden of Gethsemane on the eve of his crucifixion. Michael Green has suggested some important lessons about prayer we may learn by meditating on the Lord’s example.
1. When life is hard. Prayer is necessary in those times when we feel least like praying: when pain is intolerable; when disappointment crushes the spirit; when the world is against us. Praying to God in those times is a statement of faith that he is with us in difficult circumstances. Jesus’ prayers show us
the way to respond in our personal Gethsemane experiences.
2. With others. Jesus needed the companionship of his friends. They were too tired to encourage him and pray with him. In this, they failed him. There is great value in shared times of communal prayer in which believers bear one another burdens. Our Lord needed friends and so do we.
3. Repeated prayer. There is no shame in bringing the same requests to the Lord again and again. Jesus, in fact told a story to illustrate the value of doing this very thing (Luke 18:1-8). Here in Gethsemane Jesus prayed the same prayer three times. Commenting on this, Michael Green wrote, “To keep on praying indicates both determination and confidence and demonstrates a note of seriousness that is a vital part of intercessory prayer.”
4. God’s will be done. As we think about these prayers of Jesus, we enter the realm of mystery. There is the mystery of the human and the divine Jesus praying that, if possible, the cup of suffering and sin might be taken away from him. It seems mysterious to us that the Son of God, who had enjoyed eternal unbroken fellowship with the Father could have his request denied. It was answered with a “no.” This was so that the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and his resurrection from the dead might make possible our salvation. Jesus teaches us to pray, “Not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Jesus wanted the Father’s will to be done. God’s will was done, on Good Friday and on Easter Sunday morning.