Absorbing the character and devotion of Jesus as he faced death
You can learn a lot about someone if you know how they pray and what they pray for, especially when they are in the midst of crisis. When we are in trauma, do we suddenly reach up to God with greater fervor and feelings of faith than we normally would? Do we focus just on ourselves and our need for help and put all else aside? On the last night and day of his human life, Jesus offered three distinct prayers to his Father as his human life was in its final traumatic chapter. We all know the end of this story brings unequivocal victory over sin and death. By examining these three prayers, we can also better know the heart, mind, devotion and strength that led to achieving such a victory.
The first of Jesus’ final three prayers in the Bible is his chapter-long petition in John 17. If you've ever wondered what Jesus’ life was about, what was most important to him and how he thought, just read this prayer. It not only shows us who Jesus was and is; it also serves as a manual for how to pray when your world is about to come crashing down around you. This was a prayer of preparation, as it took place during the last calm moments of his life. It was just he and his faithful followers together before they entered the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus prayed out loud so they could hear him and join in with his heartfelt petition. What he said to his Father tells an incredible story.
There are few recorded words for Jesus’ other two prayers, but they were no less impactful and profound. His Gethsemane prayer was one of pleading as he felt the weight of coming experiences and responsibilities overwhelm him. This prayer was repeated several times and was immediately followed by his betrayal. It is amazing how many lessons we can learn from so few words! Jesus' prayer on the cross is similar. The few words he spoke do only begin to reveal the magnitude of power and hope he was communing with his Father about.
What is also profound is the prayer that no one ever talks about – the "Prayer that Never Was." During the mounting intensity of his experience, Jesus alludes to a petition he chose not to offer. When we stop and consider the unfathomable power this unspoken prayer would have unlocked, it causes us to stand in an even greater awe of his sacrifice and love.
Check out our April 22, 2019 podcast, “What Can We Learn From Jesus’ Final Prayers?” We walk through the principles of preparation Jesus modeled for us in his John 17 prayer and break down the clarity and intensity of his Gethsemane prayer. We then observe and appreciate his last prayer on the cross and reveal its deep and hope-filled meaning. If you really want to know Jesus, know how and why he prayed!
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