“And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed.” / Matthew
There are several instructive features in our Saviour’s prayer in his hour of
trial. It was lonely prayer. He withdrew even from his three favoured
disciples. Believer, be much in solitary prayer, especially in times of trial.
Family prayer, social prayer, prayer in the Church, will not suffice, these
are very precious, but the best beaten spice will smoke in your censer in your
private devotions, where no ear hears but God’s.
It was humble prayer. Luke says he knelt, but another evangelist says he “fell
on his face.” Where, then, must be thy place, thou humble servant of the great
Master? What dust and ashes should cover thy head! Humility gives us good
foot-hold in prayer. There is no hope of prevalence with God unless we abase
ourselves that he may exalt us in due time.
It was filial prayer. “Abba, Father.” You will find it a stronghold in the day
of trial to plead your adoption. You have no rights as a subject, you have
forfeited them by your treason; but nothing can forfeit a child’s right to a
father’s protection. Be not afraid to say, “My Father, hear my cry.”
Observe that it was persevering prayer. He prayed three times. Cease not until
you prevail. Be as the importunate widow, whose continual coming earned what
her first supplication could not win. Continue in prayer, and watch in the
same with thanksgiving.
Lastly, it was the prayer of resignation. “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as
thou wilt.” Yield, and God yields. Let it be as God wills, and God will
determine for the best. Be thou content to leave thy prayer in his hands, who
knows when to give, and how to give, and what to give, and what to withhold.
So pleading, earnestly, importunately, yet with humility and resignation, thou
shalt surely prevail.
“Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I
am.” / John 17:24
O death! why dost thou touch the tree beneath whose spreading branches
weariness hath rest? Why dost thou snatch away the excellent of the earth, in
whom is all our delight? If thou must use thine axe, use it upon the trees
which yield no fruit; thou mightest be thanked then. But why wilt thou fell
the goodly cedars of Lebanon? O stay thine axe, and spare the righteous. But
no, it must not be; death smites the goodliest of our friends; the most
generous, the most prayerful, the most holy, the most devoted must die. And
why? It is through Jesus’ prevailing prayer–“Father, I will that they also,
whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am.” It is that which bears them
on eagle’s wings to heaven. Every time a believer mounts from this earth to
paradise, it is an answer to Christ’s prayer. A good old divine remarks, “Many
times Jesus and his people pull against one another in prayer. You bend your
knee in prayer and say Father, I will that thy saints be with me where I am;’
Christ says, Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with
me where I am.'” Thus the disciple is at cross-purposes with his Lord. The
soul cannot be in both places: the beloved one cannot be with Christ and with
you too. Now, which pleader shall win the day? If you had your choice; if the
King should step from his throne, and say, “Here are two supplicants praying
in opposition to one another, which shall be answered?” Oh! I am sure, though
it were agony, you would start from your feet, and say, “Jesus, not my will,
but thine be done.” You would give up your prayer for your loved one’s life,
if you could realize the thoughts that Christ is praying in the opposite
direction–“Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me
where I am.” Lord, thou shalt have them. By faith we let them go.