One of the hardest parts of praying is accepting the reality that the immediate answer to our prayers, even the most urgent and sincere prayers, are not always given to us. Jesus’ agonizing prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane is one of the highest moments of the passion of Jesus before His crucifixion and resurrection.
We have in this a picture of the Son of God; the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, the sinless Lamb of God on His face in the dirt of Gethsemane’s olive grove. This was no walk in the garden alone, while the dew was still on the roses. This was no sweet hour of prayer.
This was war. A bloody, soul crushing, strength-sapping struggle happening. Prayer is warfare. When you start to pray, you are picking a fight. You are launching ICBMs into the enemy’s camp. Jesus was beginning to be crushed by the weight of our iniquity that was placed on Him.
Have you ever felt guilt? Have you ever felt the sting of shame? Imagine how it felt to this One who was “in all points like as we are, yet without sin.” For the first time, Deity tasted the wages of sin for us. He took upon Himself our guilt and shame, our sin and judgement.
And He began bearing that in Gethsemane. It was crushing to Him. And He cried out to the Father, “If it is possible, take this cup from Me… nevertheless not my will.” Have you ever found yourself needing to pray NEVERTHELESS?
Jesus did. And the Heavens did not answer. The Father did not stop the outpouring of wrath. The Son of God was not delivered from this cup, so that He might drink it from us. The most incredibly impassioned, sincere prayer ever prayed to the Father… was answered with a “NO.”
And yet the prayer was not in vain. It was not a waste of time. What Jesus needed to know, He found out. YES, it is the Father’s will that He be crushed for us. YES, it is God’s will that He die for the sins of the world. YES, it’s was God’s will that crucifixion would come, because without it, salvation couldn’t. Atonement couldn’t. Resurrection couldn’t.
We need to pray even when we don’t understand what’s going to be on the other side of “nevertheless.” But we know that, whatever it is, our Father knows best.