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How Gethsemane Helps Stretch Your Prayers Past Your Pain

By asking only for relief, we may miss a surprising blessing.

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It’s possible your prayers don’t go far enough. Maybe they need some stretching. I know mine do. Often our prayers begin and end with asking God to change the way things are around us.

How Gethsemane Helps Stretch Our Prayers Past Our Pain

(Photo: Mosaic of Jesus praying in Gethsemane. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Our prayers have a familiar pattern:

  • “Provide enough money this month”
  • “Protect us as we travel”
  • “Heal my friend from pain”
  • —etc.

These are fine prayers, and all legitimate, but incomplete. They just don’t go far enough. By asking only for relief, we may miss a surprising blessing. 

Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane helps us stretch our prayers past our pain.

Warming Up to Stretch

If you think about it, asking God to bless our circumstances may be praying for Him to change nothing about them. Perhaps He may even allow them to worsen so that true blessing may result. This kind of a mindset stretches our prayer lives further than the here and now.

Jesus had this perspective when He prayed in Gethsemane:

Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done. —Luke 22:42

Gnarled olive trees in Garden of Gethsemane

(Photo: Gnarled olive trees in Garden of Gethsemane. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Life will hand you what seems like a raw deal. Solutions seem as gnarled as the olive trunks in Gethsemane. And when God’s answer to your prayers seems cruel and anything but good, you will wage no greater battle than the surrender of your will.

At that moment, when God’s goodness seems far away, you stand only inches away from using anger to justify your sin.

But I promise you, surrender lies at the very core of whatever grieves you.

Stretching Past Our Pain

Surrendering in absolute trust to the Father—as Jesus did in Gethsemane—remains the path to peace. Jesus prayed for different conditions, sure, but Jesus also allowed for the perspective that the Father knows all. The Father may have a better plan that includes pain.

A better plan? Often, yes. In Jesus’ case, it included struggle.

Garden of Gethsemane olive trees

(Photo: Garden of Gethsemane olive trees. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Tell me what is better:

  • A proud person with good conditions?
  • A humble person in all conditions?

You and I both know the right answer. But do we believe it enough to pray for God’s will? That’s the struggle.

We stretch our prayers when we pray past our pain toward its purpose. By asking only for relief, we may miss a surprising blessing. 


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Tell me what you think: What do you pray when you’re hurting? To leave a comment, just click here.

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