“Pray Again … And Again ….”
“So, He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.” (Matthew 26:44).
We tend to think of prayer as asking for things — prayers of petition. And that’s a biblically valid function of prayer. But sometimes prayer is not so much about getting something ‘from’ God, as much as getting through a trial ‘with’ God …..
Prayers of surrender are for those times when we’re still trusting in His power to change things, but we’re accepting the fact that things are unlikely to change anytime soon ….
That’s surrendered prayer. And that’s not a one-time thing. We need not surrender once, but I dare say it should be a daily action ….
Jesus’ appeal to the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane is marked by not one, not two, but three periods of prayer. The tenor of His opening prayer was summarized in His statement, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39).
After chiding His disciples for not staying awake with Him, He returned and prayed, “O my Father, if this cup cannot pass away from me unless I drink it, Your will be done” (Matthew 26:42).
In His first prayer, He’d asked for some way of accomplishing the Father’s will that didn’t include the cross that was coming ….
Then, accepting that the cross was at hand, in obedience contrived from pure love, He yielded Himself to its certainty.
But the third time He went into prayer, Scripture doesn’t even spell out what He said. The Spirit only inspired the Gospel writer to record Jesus “saying the same words again.” (v. 44)
Why would that be, do you think?
I think it’s because when our prayer is an acknowledgment of our surrender to the Father’s purposes, we should anticipate needing to repeat that prayer frequently, reminding ourselves that God can be trusted, and reminding ourselves where our restless heart must stay …..
I know what you may be thinking: “Doesn’t the Bible say we’re not supposed to pray the same prayers over and over”?
No, it doesn’t — not exactly. When Jesus said not to use “vain repetitions as the heathen do” (Matthew 6:7), basically that is “meaningless repetition” in our prayers; He was condemning prayer that is ritualistic, head-only prayer that’s done for no other reason than to say that we said it …..
But how many times have you risen from serious prayer and gone almost immediately in your mind toward solutions other than surrender? I confess: I am guilty of such ….
Perhaps you’ve started going to work on fixing the problem yourself. Perhaps you’ve become overwhelmed with guilt and despair, convinced He’s unwilling to walk through this thing with you any longer ….
It may be only the next day, the next hour — maybe no more than the next ten minutes even. But it’s not too soon for you to remind yourself, even as you vocally reiterate your choice to yourself: “I’ve given this to You, Lord.” ….. “She belongs to You, Lord.” ….. “It’s forgiven and in the past, Lord.” …. “I’m not living in regret, Lord.” ….. “I’m going forward in joy and gratitude, Lord.” ….. “There is now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus.” ……
Repetition strengthens and confirms. Whether you’re reading the Word, or in fervent prayer; there is strength in the continual edification. Repeating your submissive prayer from the heart is the road to real surrender, and repeating it as often as necessary …..
If you’re at the point of praying a prayer of surrender, I’m sure you did not want or plan to be here in this place. It’s a vulnerable place, yet a humble crossroad ….
You’ve asked God to take something away that He’s not taking away, or perhaps it’s to give something that’s simply not on the horizon. And maybe you’re thinking there’s no indication that His answer will change to “yes” in the near future, if at all …..
But in returning time and again to surrender, you will find He’s still here with you. You will experience His grace flowing over you, and He will carry you. This is “prayer without ceasing” and we know that “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man or woman availeth much.” So I would challenge you to pray again … and again … and again …
Let’s pray ~
Father, You have never failed me. It has been me that has been lack, burdened and unable to even pray. Your ways are right, pure, and true. Your thoughts much higher than mine. I cannot yet see today what Your purpose may be for this trial, but I do not wish to pay the inevitable price any longer for being resistent to Your will. I surrender to You today , trusting that You and Your sufficient grace will guide me through this storm I’m facing. Strengthen me that I may be a strength to others facing their own storms and may You be glorified through it all. I will rest on Your promises as I cling to the hand of my Saviour, Jesus Christ, in Whose Holy name I pray, Amen ….