By Dr. Harold Sala
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
Early in the ministry of Jesus, His disciples came to Him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray.” And in response Jesus gave to them the model beginning with the words, “Our Father who is in heaven….” Jesus never gave a formal name to what He said. We call it the Lord’s Prayer. But it is better described as “The Disciple’s Prayer.”
When the cross was looming on the horizon, Jesus knew His hour had come. After He observed the Passover Supper with the disciples, they sang a hymn; and then Jesus walked down the slopes of Mt. Zion, across the Kedron brook, and to the Garden of Olives. There Jesus prayed.
He poured out His heart to His father. Mark records snatches of what He said with these words, “Abba, Father…everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36). For a few brief moments, ponder the elements of His simple prayer in relationship to your own personal prayer life.
First, the words “Abba, Father” speaks of a relationship. The first word was Aramaic, the common language of the day, and the word conveyed an intimate connection which is hard to translate. Perhaps the closest English equivalent is “papa” or “daddy.” It is intimate, loving and dependent. God doesn’t answer my prayers because He looks down from heaven and sees the reflection of His face in the top of my bald head. He answers prayers because I am His child and He is my father. That’s the connection that counts.
The second element of His prayer is a reminder of the Father’s capability. “Everything is possible for you,” He says. His words are an understatement. This was the one who set aside His attributes of deity and left His home in heaven and came to our earth. Yes, He knew the Father spoke the word and brought the world into existence. He knew that nothing limited His power and, thus, He quietly reminded both His Father and Himself that nothing we ask is beyond His ability to do, to change or to fix.
This means you will never ask anything of God which stretches His resources, or may be too difficult for Him to fix or too big for Him to undertake. What an awesome thought!
Then Jesus made His request–“Take this cup from me!” What cup? He knew that just as grapes had to be crushed in the great vat or wine press to produce the fruit of the vine, that He would die at the hands of the Romans. Death was not his fear. It was being separated from the Father, cut off from His presence.
Finally, Jesus recognized His Father’s preeminence or supremacy–“Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Question: Is it OK to pray specifically for what you want? Absolutely! That’s what Jesus did. Don’t beat around the bush when you talk to God. Get specific. Outline your views. Ask what you will, but then…and this is vitally important…do what Jesus did: put your need in His strong hands and submit your will to His great will. He knows what is best for you and He always gives His very best to those who leave the choice to Him.
There you have it–four powerful elements–a relationship, a reminder of the Father’s capability, a request and a resting of your plea in His hands. That is our Lord’s prayer and it can be yours as well.
Read those words in Mark 14 in your New Testament and make the prayer a framework for your requests today.
Resource reading: Mark 14.