Prayer is hard. Often seen as a burden and yet more often so revitalizing. Prayer connects us to God. Whether in the morning, noon, or night, once an hour or once a year, prayer is a powerful conversation. An important conversation. Even so, Christ knew those of us on Earth would need some guidance, so he offers several examples for us to follow when words won’t come or we are too weak to speak them.
1. A PRAYER OF GRATITUDE
Christ himself often prayed his most powerful prayers in the midst of grief and pain. May that knowledge embolden and encourage us, knowing that he understood the pain we all inevitably experience in this life.
The Prayer In John 11, Jesus discovers that his beloved friend, Lazarus, is gravely ill. Despite the odds, Jesus maintains his faith in God proclaiming then and there that, “Lazarus’ sickness will not end in death.” (John 11:4). Sadly, by the time Jesus makes it to Lazarus, Lazarus has already been dead for several days. Deeply heartbroken, Jesus mourns with Mary and Martha and those gathered. But note what He says next; He then goes on to pray a passionate prayer of thanksgiving. “Father, thank you for hearing me” (John 11:41). He didn’t ask why, He simply thanked God for always hearing, always knowing, and always being available in times of great need. Jesus prayed that others might witness his prayer and be changed by it.
2. A PRAYER FOR GOD’S WILL TO PREVAIL
Often times we pray for things to go a particular way in accordance with our own desires and will. Ultimately we want good things for ourselves and when bad things happen we are quick to place blame. Even Jesus, God’s own son, asked God to change the circumstances. Jesus knew that humans would struggle to trust our lives to faith. He walked a path far more treacherous than any we will ever face, but ultimately He resolved to obey.
The Prayer Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane. The time draws near when he will make the ultimate sacrifice and fulfill God’s plan. He had taken three men with him to stand guard as He prayed. Jesus felt the same pain and struggled just as we do. Though willing to walk the path to the end, Jesus also knew how the story would end, so He sought an alternate route. He beseeched his father. “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). Let this be our prayer, then. May we ultimately resolve to obey no matter the personal cost.
3. A PRAYER OF FORGIVENESS
Forgiveness is the cornerstone of grace. It frees us from the bonds of things like pain and anger and yet we seem to struggle with this concept the most. Because it’s hard. We don’t want to let go. It feels like an act of dismissal, especially if the other person hasn’t asked for it. Forgiveness, however, is not about letting the other person get away with what they’ve done, but about remembering that Jesus himself was wronged more than anyone. If He has grace enough to cover our multitude of sins, surely we can extend the same courtesy.
The Prayer As he hung there, mocked, ridiculed, tormented, Jesus calls out, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). What an example of Grace. God knew that we would need this reminder, that most of the time, it’s not about us. It’s about the other person and letting go.
Of all the multitude of prayers that Jesus prayed, these are some of the most resilient, grace-filled, and ultimately healing prayers. May we remember that Grace will always prevail, and Jesus is the ultimate giver of Grace.