Best of Daily Reflections: The Most Unexpected Prayer

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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“Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

Mark 14:36

Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane is, in my opinion, the most unexpected prayer... ever. There is no prayer in Scripture that surprises us more than this one. And no prayer ever prayed startles us more than this one.

Throughout the latter half of Mark’s Gospel, Jesus often predicted his imminent death. He not only knew that he was going to die in a terrible way, but also that his death was necessary. As he said in Mark 8:31, “the Son of Man must suffer many things” and be killed. This was not optional, but divine necessity.

Yet in the Garden, Jesus actually asked to be relieved of his duty. “Abba, Father,” he prayed, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me” (14:36). Of course, he also added, “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” But Christians often leap to Jesus’ submission to the will of the Father without letting his request sink in. Even though Jesus knew that it was necessary for him to die, he still asked for some other way.

Perhaps no other passage in Scripture more powerfully demonstrates the humanity of Jesus. No other passage allows us to feel just how much his experience was like our own. Jesus knew what it meant to struggle with God’s will. He was familiar with the challenge of following the Father when his way is difficult, painful, and overwhelming.

This means that Jesus understands our struggles, not as an outsider looking in, but as an insider, as one of us. Thus when we are struggling with the Lord, when we find obedience to be hard to attain, we can know that Jesus gets it. This gives us the confidence to ask for his help, without guilt or shame.

As we learn to open our hearts fully to God, we will find from him the help we need to obey. Through the Spirit, we will be able to echo Jesus’ prayer of humble submission: “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (14:36).

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: How does the prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane impact your prayers? Have you ever wrestled with God’s will in a way rather like that of Jesus in the Garden? What happened?

PRAYER: What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Ev’rything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Ev’rything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our ev’ry weakness,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In his arms he’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.


“What a Friend We Have in Jesus” by Joseph Scrivens, 1855 (public domain)


Outrageous Hospitality

Romans 12:13 encourages us to practice hospitality. In the Message version, that verse reads: "be inventive in hospitality." Translated, the word hospitality means showing love to strangers. It's more than opening up our homes to the people we know well. Outrageous hospitality extends even to people who aren't at all like us, and who wouldn't usually show up on our radar screens.

Read and share the stories and articles in the series, Outrageous Hospitality. We hope they'll help you develop a working definition of what it means to practice hospitality in your community, your family, your workplace, and your church. In what ways might you be inventive when it comes to hospitality—reaching beyond your usual sphere of influence?