The other day, I was talking with my friends about prayer and how it’s ok to pray for one thing over and over. That’s something I’ve always wrestled with, because if you have to keep bringing something up to God, doesn’t it mean you’re not trusting Him with it?
And then I read the story of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.
I saw how Jesus prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want Your will to be done, not mine.” (Matt. 26:39 NLT). After praying, Jesus talks with His disciples. Then He returns to pray the exact prayer again. If Jesus can bring the same request to God over and over, why shouldn’t we?
And this led me to continue thinking about Jesus in the garden… He prayed a prayer to God not once but twice, and God didn’t give Him what He asked for.
God told Jesus “no.”
And then I thought about my life and all our lives and how upset we get when God tells us “no” and how selfish that is. We so often think that bringing something to the Lord repetitively means it deserves a “yes.” We think God is unfair. We think He is unloving. We think He isn’t present. And Jesus thought the same thing. After God answered His prayer with a “no,” Jesus says on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matt. 27: 46 NLT).
But look what else He thought. Just before His final breath, Jesus says, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” (Luke 23: 46 NLT). In the face of unbearable, unanswered prayer, Jesus trusts God.
And look at the purpose behind God’s “no.” He saved the world with it. I need to remember that the next time I pout or complain or feel depressed or cry about God not giving me what I prayed for, even if it’s something really important. I need to truly desire “[His] will to be done, not mine” above any other thing I could ask for, as Jesus did.
I’d prefer a life-giving “no” over a fruitless “yes” any day. Wouldn’t you?