“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
As much as I have enjoyed writing my Jesus Who? series, I have decided to wrap up the series with this post with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. I have enjoyed becoming better aquatinted with the Lord by exploring how Jesus loved.
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:1-3). I have written previously about preachers and teachers who emphasize scripture like, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer” (Matthew 21:22), while neglecting scripture like, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” (1 John 5:14-15). Back in the days when I was younger in my walk, and far less read in the Word, the enemy used scripture like that in Matthew 21, together with the help of a seemingly endless parade of willing message bearers, to stumble me time and time again. But God has since shown me the necessity of being aligned with His will in prayer i.e. 1 John 5 to cite just one example from scripture. I cannot approach God with my mind made up based on what I want or what I think should be; that’s not faithfulness and would surely count among the wrong motives referred to in James 4. A difference between praying in the Spirit and in the flesh, I might add. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I study the Word in order to better understand what God wills and how I should pray.
So, I frequently find myself going back to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Despite experiencing such tremendous sorrow, which the Bible describes as being to the point of death, the Lord sought not His own will but that of the Father. “Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will’” (Matthew 26:39). Gethsemane has reverberated, down through the centuries, to the present day. On this night, the passion of our Savior was demonstrated by His willingness to die in our place to pay the penalty for our sins. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21); this is the gospel of Jesus Christ. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
The scripture considered in this post is full of any number of other revelations and wonderful truths worth exploring, but I have written what I believe the Holy Spirit has guided me to write.
Who am I to judge what God may be permitting in order to fulfill His good purpose? Regardless of hardship or healing, I know I must always pray with God’s will and never against it; therefore, I must seek wisdom, which God gives generously (James 1:5). Prayer is not a mysterious practice reserved for the religiously devout, or self–proclaimed [S]piritual glitterati. Prayer is listening and talking to God; prayer is relationship; prayer is worship. Prayer is a privilege, and we are invited to freely pray from the heart, spontaneously, and in our own words. Throughout the Bible, people prayed bowing (Exodus 4:31), some prayed on their knees (1 Kings 8:54) and on their faces (2 Chronicles 20:18; Matthew 26:39), while others prayed standing (1 Kings 8:22). What’s more, the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans” (Romans 8:26). Therefore, we need not babble on and on like pagans to be heard by God (Matthew 6:7), and I doubt rolling around on the floor is a requirement either. Let us not inhibit the Holy Spirit by giving into deceptive impulses of the flesh whatever they may be. I know there are a lot of Christians out there who think there is a certain way to worship and a certain way pray, but I truly believe that God is more interested in prostrate hearts than how we position our bodies. Thank you for reading my series Jesus Who?.
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