Garden of Gethsemane
“My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
(Matthew 26:39 NLT)
Jesus prayed this prayer as He was facing crucifixion and was full aware that God could change the situation, but that was not God’s will. Matthew 26:37 tells us that Jesus became anguished and distressed and in verse 38 He states: “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death.” With these versus we are reminded that there is nothing that we experience that Jesus hasn’t already felt before us. True, what we deal with is on a much smaller level than the crucifixion, but nothing that we are feeling, dealing with or go through is unimportant to God. He is concerned about every part of our being.
As I sat in the Garden of Gethsemane listening to the pastor teach a lesson on Unfinished Prayer my heart continued to be heavy as I reflected on a prayer that I had been seeking an answer. At the beginning of the year, I started having the desire to move and teach at a university and I began seeking God for answers. Before submitting the first application, God told me to have the realtor come to my home and have a discussion about options of renting versus selling. He also instructed me to have the wallpaper that was peeling in the upstairs bathrooms removed and the walls painted while I was in Israel. My natural instinctive questions were “why speak with a realtor and have the bathrooms painted before submitting applications and receiving an offer?” I kept feeling that it would be a swift transition when the time came for me to move and I needed to have things in order. With this in mind, I also began the process of donating items that I no longer used or needed to keep.
I began submitting applications and struggled with not receiving any responses. I fasted, prayed, read my Bible, Bible apps, and anything that would give me insight and direction. I cried out to God because I needed to hear answers from Him on the next steps I should take and I truly wanted Him to open the hearts and minds of those who would review my documents. I listened intently for God’s voice while waiting on a response, but there was a continuous silence. As I journaled prayers, my heart would grow heavier with the reality that I still hadn’t received any responses. It became difficult to journal the prayers as tears would instantly flow because of the strength of my heart’s desires and knowing that I was in a position of waiting.
Before leaving for Israel, I prayed and asked God to please not let me return home from Israel without receiving an answer from Him. Listening intently on the lesson of Unfinished Prayer, I realized that I had not released my prayers with “not my will, but Your will be done.”
After finishing the lesson, we were released to spend quiet time in the Garden of Gethsemane seeking God and releasing prayers. The tears streamed down my eyes as slowly walked through the garden and sat on an area of leveled stones. I found it difficult, yet comforting, to pray my heart’s desires again and end it with “not my will, but Your will be done.” By sincerely releasing this prayer, my heart was immediately lightened and I no longer felt the overwhelming heaviness of an Unfinished Prayer. I finished my prayer on that day and I trust in God’s promise:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
(Jeremiah 29:11 NLT)
As I sat in the Garden, I reflected on speaking with the realtor and having the bathrooms painted without knowing when, where or truthfully if I would be moving this year. I felt somewhat embarrassed because I’d shared excitement about moving with a few people, yet didn’t have any further information. Just as these thoughts came, God reassured me that I was demonstrating obedience by acting on what didn’t appear naturally logical. He reminded me that “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17 NKJV). I was willing to do the things that He instructed me to do without having complete clarity of answers.
Releasing an unfinished prayer allowed me to see the prayer from a different perspective. I know that God is working everything out for my good and that I need to continue to get prepared for where He will at some time release me to go.
My question for you is: Are you wresting with the heaviness of an unfinished prayer? It may be difficult to pray “not my will but Your will be done” because you want your prayers answered quickly and according to what you think is best for your life. In reality, only God knows what is best for us and His desires are far better than what we can even imagine.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
(Ephesians 3:20 NLT)
Garden of Gethsemane