Prayers from Gethsemane

Prayer

Reading the Word

Luke 22:39–46 (ESV)

39 And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. 40 And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. 45 And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, 46 and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

Parallel Texts: Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; John 18:1

Understanding and Applying the Word

It was the eve of the crucifixion and only a short amount of time before Jesus was arrested. Jesus knew that his time was short and that he would soon suffer and die. So, what did he do? He went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. We are told that he was “greatly distressed and troubled” (Mark 14:33) and that he asked for the cup to be taken from him if there was any other way. The Father did not remove the cup from Jesus. There was no other way to deal with sin. Jesus had to go to the cross as a sacrifice. However, an angel did appear to strengthen Jesus.

There are two things for us to think about in this passage. First: our Savior’s death was no small thing. We may be tempted to think it was not a big deal since the resurrection was only a few days away. However, Jesus was troubled by the prospect of going to the cross. It was a no small thing, but it was the only way to secure our salvation, so our Savior went willingly.

Second: when we think about Jesus’ prayer request and the Father’s response, we must understand that our prayers are sometimes answered in different ways than we expect. The cup was not taken from Jesus, but an angel was sent to give him strength for the circumstances. God does not always remove us from the difficulty, but instead gives us the strength and perseverance to make it through. We must always say, as Jesus did, “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

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That They May Be One

John 1722 [widescreen]

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading for the day. Please be sure to subscribe so you can follow along each day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

John 17:20–26 (ESV)

20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

Jesus Prayed for His Disciples

John 1717 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 17:6–19 (ESV)

6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus prayed for his disciples. Imagine what it would be like if he prayed for you and me. What would he pray for? I believe we have the answer when we look at this passage. He prayed that the disciples would be one (v. 11), that they be protected from the evil one (v. 15), and that they would be sanctified in the truth of God’s word (v. 17).

The content of Christ’s prayer reflects the greatest need of the Church in every age. We need unity among brothers and sisters in Christ. Unfortunately, we see how easily divided we often are over trivial things. We need protection from Satan and his attacks because he is always at work to undermine the gospel’s work in our lives and in the world. And we need to grow in our knowledge and understanding of God’s word because it is the means that God has given us for knowing who our Savior is and what he desires from us.

Jesus was not only praying for the disciples of that time, but his disciples across the ages, including you and me. What a wonderful thing to know that Jesus prayed for us!

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For the Glory of God

John 174 [widescreen]

Due to my schedule, I am not able to publish devotional thoughts on today’s passage. However, I have included the day’s suggested Scripture reading. Thanks for reading along each day!

Reading the Word

John 17:1–5 (ESV)

1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

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Christ Has Overcome the World

John 1633 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 16:29–33 (ESV)

29 His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! 30 Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” 31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

The disciples finally thought they were fully understanding Jesus as they called out, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech!” Much of what Jesus had been saying had gone over their heads. Even here, Jesus made it clear that they were still only partially understanding. “Do you now believe,” Jesus asked? The disciples still lacked full understanding of what was coming and it would cause them to desert Jesus and scatter in fear in only a few hours. Jesus once again spoke to encourage them by telling them that they could take heart knowing that Jesus had overcome the world.

Satan is at war with God’s people. Scripture tells us that we are in a spiritual war (Ephesians 6:10-12). However, Jesus Christ has already defeated Satan and his demons. The crucifixion and resurrection were the decisive blows. Christians may face ongoing troubles in this world, but we know that these times are short and that the end is already decided. Christ is the risen and conquering King and his kingdom is forever. We can take heart because our King has overcome the world.

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Asking in Jesus’ Name

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Reading the Word

John 16:23–28 (ESV)

23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

25 “I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

This is a passage that is often misunderstood. Many take Jesus’ words in verse 23 to mean that God will give us anything we ask for as long as we do it correctly. This is where the custom of closing our prayers with the phrase “in Jesus’ name” originates. Many will also add that the one praying must have sufficient faith or the prayer will not be effective. Again, this comes from a misunderstanding of this passage.

It is important to notice a couple of things. Jesus already said something very similar in John 15:7, where he said:

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7, ESV)

Notice that the answer to our prayers is tied to our abiding in Jesus. Also, in our passage today, we are told that we must ask “in Jesus’ name.” This does not mean simply throwing a certain phrase onto the end of our prayers. This means that our prayers should be consistent with the will and desires of Jesus. When we take these two passages together, we see that our prayers are answered when we are asking for the things that Jesus desires. When our lives are lived in such a way that our desires and Christ’s desires are the same, we can pray with confidence that God hears and answers our prayers. We can start by asking God to help us to be more like Jesus.

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The Difference a Few Days Can Make

black calendar close up composition

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Reading the Word

John 16:16–22 (ESV)

16 “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” 17 So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” 18 So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” 19 Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus told his disciples of his coming death and resurrection, but they did not understand him. He told them, “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” They would not see him because he would be dead and buried. However, they would see him again as he would be resurrected on the third day. The disciples would weep over Jesus’ death while the world celebrated that he was gone, but the disciples would experience great joy when they saw him alive again!

Imagine the emotional roller coaster that the disciples experienced when Jesus was first crucified and buried, but then rose from the dead. At his crucifixion, the disciples would have felt that the time they had spent with Jesus was all for nothing. They thought he was the promised Messiah, but now he was dead and nothing had changed. Then, when they saw him alive again, there would have been great joy and final confirmation that Jesus was who he had claimed to be.

The disciples were so emboldened by the resurrection that they went into the world telling everyone about it. They proclaimed the name of Jesus at the cost of beatings, imprisonments, and death. Why were they so driven and willing to die? Because they knew that Jesus had changed the world. He had made forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with God possible. They had to preach this news! It was too important to keep quiet. We too should be emboldened because our Savior is risen! Christ has come and his life, death, and resurrection have changed everything. The news is too good to stay quiet.

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The Spirit of Truth

John 1613 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 16:5–15 (ESV)

5 But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Once again, Jesus encouraged his disciples concerning his pending departure. Jesus had to go in order for the Helper to come. Jesus’ death and resurrection was inaugurating the last days prophesied of in places like Joel 2:28, where the Spirit of God would be poured out on all of God’s people to empower them for God’s purposes in the world.

The Spirit’s activity in the world would lead people to conviction of sin and of righteousness and of judgement. This would happen as the Spirit-empowered disciples proclaimed the truth of the gospel to the world and as the power of the Spirit worked in the lives of those who heard. We see this happening in Acts 2, where the Spirit falls on the disciples and they immediately begin to preach. As they proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ, many of the hearers are converted.

The same Spirit empowers Jesus’ followers today. We have been called to go into the world and make disciples through preaching and teaching, but we are not called to do it alone or in our own power. We have been given the Holy Spirit who works in and through us for God’s purposes. Therefore, we need not go out in fear or feeling hopeless. We go to the world with the power of God at work with us. This truth makes all of the difference.

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Prepared to Suffer

silhouette of a man in window

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Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish my personal notes on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading. Be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

John 16:1–4 (ESV)

1 “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. 3 And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4 But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you.

Our Helper

Acts 18 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 15:26–27 (ESV)

26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus promised his followers that he was not leaving them alone. They would receive a Helper, who was the Holy Spirit. The Helper would be with the disciples as they bore witness to all Jesus said and did. The Holy Spirit would equip and empower the disciples to take the message of Christ to the world. Jesus reminded the disciples of this important truth in the moments before he left this earth and ascended into heaven. We find Jesus’ words in Acts 1:8:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

All believers have been called to be witnesses. We are to go into the world and proclaim the gospel. This proclamation includes telling the world of all that Jesus said and did with a central focus on his death and resurrection. This is an overwhelming responsibility, but we have not been left alone. The Helper, the Holy Spirit, was a promise to all believers. He continues to work in our lives today to empower and prepare us for all that God desires from us. It is not in our own power that we go into the world, but in the power of God through the work of the Holy Spirit.

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