Jesus’ Prayer in Gethsemane
Questions to Consider
1. To acclimate yourself to the book of Matthew, choose a Bible Book Background to review. In today’s Scripture link, the Mark and Luke accounts of Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane are provided for comparison, and Matthew 26:1-35 is provided for context. Today’s questions will mostly pertain to Matthew 26:36-46.
2. Briefly summarize the events leading up to Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane. (Matthew 26:1-35) Who is “them” in verse 36?
3. Examine all three gospel accounts of Jesus’ prayer. Which words and phrases describe what His state of mind and heart were? How do Jesus’ actions demonstrate that difficult times should always drive us to prayer as a first response rather than a last resort?
4. What is the progression of fellowship to solitude in 36-39?
36a- Jesus is with all eleven disciples
Why would Jesus have wanted to pray alone at this moment? When you are experiencing soul-rending grief or distress, why is it important to spend time alone in prayer? Conversely, how could it be helpful and encouraging to have close brothers and sisters in Christ, or your church family, physically present to pray with or over you?
5. What does the word “watch” (“watch with Me,” “watch and pray”) mean in verses 38,40,41? What did Jesus want the disciples to do? Is “watching” applicable to our prayer lives today? How?
6. Compare Jesus’ prayer in verse 39 to His instruction to the disciples to “pray like this,” followed by The Lord’s Prayer, (see lesson 8, especially the last paragraph of question 3, link above). Is Jesus contradicting Himself by not praying according to the template of The Lord’s Prayer? Why not? Explain how different situations, contexts, and states of mind can call for different kinds of prayer, which can all be pleasing to God.
7. Break down Jesus’ prayer in 39 and 42 and explain what He means (use your cross-references if you need help) in each section:
“My Father” (compare to the salutation of the Lord’s Prayer)-
“if it be possible,” (Is Jesus questioning God’s power, control, or ability? Why not, and what does He mean by this?)-
“let this cup pass from Me;”-
“not as I will, but as You will.”-
“if this cannot pass unless I drink it,”
“Your will be done.”
In what ways might each of these concepts apply to your prayers in times of distress? Describe the heart attitude in which Jesus approaches God in prayer here. Does this same attitude characterize your prayers?
8. How many times (39,42,44) did Jesus pray “saying the same words again” (44)? How does this not contradict Jesus’ teaching not to “heap up empty phrases” or “they think that they will be heard for their many words,” but rather is more in line with Jesus’ teaching on persistence in prayer? (it may be helpful to look back at lesson 8, link above)
9. How did God answer Jesus’ prayer? (read the remainder of the book of Matthew if you need some help) Why didn’t God give Jesus what He asked for?
A popular false teaching of the Word of Faith (prosperity gospel) and New Apostolic Reformation heresies is that, if we just have enough faith when we pray, if we just believe enough when we ask God for something, He is obligated to give it to us or do what we want. Explain how Jesus’ perfect faith, His total surrender to God’s will rather than His own, and God’s answer of “no” to Jesus’ prayer completely blows this false teaching out of the water.
10. Explain how Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane demonstrates that prayer is not about getting God to do what we want Him to do, but about getting us to do what God wants us to do.
Do you completely surrender your will to God’s will – as Jesus did – when you pray? Are your prayers more along the lines of “My way or the highway,” or “Thy way, not my way”? Are you willing to let go of what you want God to do, what you think is best, in order to embrace what God wants to do and what God thinks is best, even if that means excruciating loss or suffering? As you pray this week, present your requests to God through the lens of “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”
Suggested Memory Verse