“If we are tempted to minimize the recoil on the part of Christ in this, we actually rob ourselves of the opportunity to legitimize our own experiences of being overwhelmed. Our own experiences of being engulfed. Our own experiences of being greatly and deeply distressed.”

Alistair Begg

Prayer in the Life of Jesus

We want to encourage you to grab a journal or a notebook – something to write on as you walk through each prayer guide or devotional. Yes, it will add a few minutes to the time it takes to do the devotion, and it will also deepen your experience and shape your walk with God for years to come. This journal or notebook will be a keepsake to remind you of God’s faithfulness during this challenging season for all of us.

Engage the Word

Today is Thursday of Holy Week – the day our Savior prepared and celebrated the Passover meal with His disciples. It was on this evening that He prayed His famous “High Priestly Prayer”, on which we have meditated for the last four days. Following this very eventful evening, He  went with His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray before He was betrayed and arrested and led to the cross in just a few short hours. We look in this devotional at those words He prayed to His Father just before His arrest.

Matthew 26:39,42

39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” 

42 Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”

Connect the Heart

Some question this prayer and ask – “Doesn’t this show hesitancy to do the Father’s will and a reluctance to obey the Father?” We aren’t holy. We cannot relate – we can’t even fathom what Jesus was going through, or what He was about to endure. The thought of bearing sin and guilt and judgment… We don’t have a perfect hatred for sin – He did. He is too pure to look on things that are sinful. No wonder he came to the point of death.

Pastor and author Allistair Begg described the emotional pain Jesus was suffering as “an anguish from which there was no escaping, and in which he found no opportunity for comfort.”

One other commentator called it “the anticipation of experiencing the Father’s will and embracing the role of becoming a sacrifice for sin. To become the sin bearer.” He is facing something completely alien to Himself. He has never known sin. He has never known alienation or separation.

Luke 22:44 says “His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” The clinical name for this condition is hematohidrosis. Under immense stress, the capillaries gorge, inflate – and explode, and the blood comes out the sweat glands. This is distress. This is stress. The greatest distress that any human has ever experienced…We have a Savior who is fully man – and fully God. He understands. He sees. He knows. He experienced the greatest of all distresses – and he sees yours. This should give us a sense of tremendous encouragement – especially when we are distressed and overwhelmed.

Reflect on the Truth

1. Jesus’ prayer reflects his anticipation of becoming sin on our behalf and being abandoned by His Father who cannot look upon sin. In just a few short hours, Jesus was going to carry His cross to Golgotha to die for the sins of the world and make the ultimate sacrifice. Is your heart – your words, your actions, your desires, your motivations – in a posture to reflect on this act of love and sacrifice? How might Jesus’ example of selfless love be an invitation for you to experience a deeper intimacy with your Savior?

2. Jesus can relate to distress. Is there a certain distress in your life that you can bring to Him in this moment? He sees. He knows. He can relate.

Depend on the Spirit

Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see the deeper longings, desires or motives in your heart that these thoughts are pointing to. (For example: you may write down, “Father, I can’t even begin to fathom the anticipation of immense suffering and distress Jesus was sensing in this prayer. But I trust that because of this, He can empathize with anything I could ever go through.”) The Lord can help us discern the path forward – through His word, His Spirit, His people.

For Prayer: As we conclude our devotional time, let us each pray that God will, by His Spirit, enable us to enter into a deep appreciation for what Christ accomplished for us on the cross.


Read our post “Why Fast?” to learn about the spiritual discipline of fasting and gain a better understanding of why Jesus asked us to fast. We fast not to get something we want from God, but for God to change our wants. We fast because Jesus fasted, He expected we would fast, and we see that the early church fasted.

Read yesterday’s post HERE.

Catch up on all our 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting posts on the blog HERE.