Gethsemane Praying

Learning How to Pray

Matthew 26:36-46


Pastor Craig Ledbetter

DATE: 20 April, 2008 AM

PLACE: BBC Ballincollig


I.        Introduction (Luke 11:1)


A.      Some fundamental truths about prayer:


1.       There are no easy prayers – praying is not chit-chat, it is a definite effort to communicate how you feel to God, and a desperate effort to hear God reply! That doesn’t happen flippantly!

2.       You only learn how to pray when you have to – they are not memorized words you pray, but words and feelings that come out of need!

3.       There are no convenient times to pray

4.       Real praying is borne out of confident faith – it is not a guess, or a hope, or a feeling, or a stab-in-the-dark – it is a firm belief that you are being heard in heaven, and will be answered from heaven!

5.       Praying is the most life-and-death act you will ever do as a Christian. Preaching, soul-winning, loving, giving, caring, blessing, ministering, sacrificing… they all are empty acts without prayer!


B.      Our Lord heavily emphasised prayer in His life:


1.       Mark 1:35  And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.

2.       Mark 6:46  And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray.

3.       Luke 6:12  And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.

4.       John 6:15  When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.

5.       Everything He did was built upon His walk with God  in prayer!


C.      His life of prayer was NOTHING like anyone else’s – it came so natural, and was so normal for Him, and He seemed to get everything He asked for. Jesus’ prayer life was so awesome that fishermen, carpenters, builders, farmers all wanted to know how to do it!


1.       Luke 11:1  And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.

2.       John 11:41  Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.


D.      Well, we are given a bright glimpse into the prayer life of Jesus Christ. Here, in Matthew 26, we are given a view of what praying should be like, and how desperate we should be to have our own Gethsemane just for prayer!


1.       This is where Jesus prayed the words of John 17 – His high priestly prayer

2.       This is also where Judas betrayed Jesus into the hands of the Pharisees

3.       This is where Jesus defeated Satan’s final and fiercest attacks against Him, trying to kill Him before the cross

4.       This all gives us the challenge to have such a time in prayer that the same kind of victories occur in OUR lives


E.       I’ve called this, Gethsemane Praying, because it is THIS kind of praying that we need. You are not going to really pray until you have a good understanding of how strong the praying needs to be, and just how great are the victories that can be won by it!

F.       Most advice on prayer focuses on specific methods of prayer. But I believe that most of us are “prayer infants” and need to learn to walk before we can run. We will find a great example of solid prayer walking in Matthew 26!


II.      Background


A.      Jesus had been earnestly instructing His disciples; but as he neared Gethsemane he became strangely silent.

B.      Upon entering the garden late that evening, Jesus said to his disciples, "Tarry ye here." Selecting Peter, James, and John to accompany him, he proceeded farther into the dark recesses of the garden.

C.      Every step that the Saviour now took was with laboured effort. He groaned aloud as though suffering under the pressure of a terrible burden; yet he refrained from startling his three chosen disciples by a full explanation of the agony which he was to suffer. His body convulsed with anguish, and his face expressed a sorrow past all description.

D.      He went a short distance from his disciples and fell with his face upon the cold ground. He was overpowered by the realisation that God was removing his presence from him. He felt himself being separated from his Father by a gulf of sin, so broad, so black and deep that his spirit shuddered. He clung convulsively to the cold, unfeeling ground as if to prevent himself from being drawn still farther from God. From his pale, convulsed lips wailed the bitter cry, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt."

E.       So begins, real praying. Praying that gets answered, and praying that transforms the weak into the strong; the frail into mighty men; the sorrowful into singers; the lost into found!


III.   Message


A.      The Place of Prayer (Mt 26:36) - Gethsemane


1.       Prayer needs the anchor of both a place and a set time


a.       Yes, we are to pray throughout each day

b.       But there needs to be a place that we pray

c.        Some people make that “place” at a church – but it doesn’t have to wait until there

d.       For many it should be a special place, near-by to your home, or maybe to your work


2.       A regular place (Luke 22:39)


a.       No good just praying on occasion, or hit-and-miss style

b.       You don’t do that with eating – and when you do, your health fails

c.        You MUST have a place that is your praying place

d.       A place where you meet with God!!!

e.        And a TIME where you and God meet – He is there for you always, but He loves when we make time just for Him – that’s prayer


3.       A place apart – a quiet place that is special, and precious


a.       Gethsemane was a garden - What a place to pray!

b.       There was a bit of lush green growth all around, and large, olive trees

c.        These olive trees, when unharmed, would last 2,000 years – there are some olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane that were standing when Jesus passed among them and prayed!

d.       Do have a place that you can call, your place of prayer?


1)       By your bed-side is a great praying place

2)       In your car, before work

3)       In amongst the trees behind your house is a great place for prayer

4)       By a river (Acts 16:13)

5)       The upper room was a great place for church-wide prayer


4.       A place for pondering


a.       Thinking things through

b.       What you need, why you need it

c.        What sins are in your heart and life

d.       Just how able God is to meet your every need


5.       A place that you can weep, and be real, and humble yourself, for as long as it takes to hear from heaven, and be helped!

6.       Whether you realise it or not, but THAT PLACE OF PRAYER will become a special place – a place you will flee to very often! If you would just make time for it!


B.      The People of Prayer (26:37,38)


1.       Jesus usually prayed alone, but not this time

2.       Sometimes prayer needs other people – not always, but sometimes you need someone to pray with you about things (Mt 18:19)


a.       Not everyone will pray with you – Jesus chose 3 out of the twelve to pray with Him

b.       Jesus called for Peter, James and John to go deep into the Garden to pray with Him

c.        These three were known as Jesus’ closest friends in his ministry

d.       The other 9, well, they hadn’t grown enough yet for the Lord to draw them into His prayer times. He had taught them to pray, but these three were who Jesus thought worthy enough to pray with Him in this dark time


3.       Do you have anybody that would pray with you?

4.       Isn’t it nice when you know that someone is actually praying for you at any given time?

5.       We all need to be people of prayer, for one another, and WITH one another!


C.      The Battle in Prayer (26:37-39) - There are a couple of battles going on here


1.       There already was a fierce battle going on – almost always is – a spiritual dimension that had a conflict in it – between God and the devil – and we get caught up in it sometimes!

2.       There is always the battle just to pray!


a.       It is designed to be the first thing you do - As it was with Nehemiah (Neh 2:1-4), and with Paul and Silas in prison, and with the Church when Peter was in prison about to be beheaded in Acts 12! Hey, when do YOU usually pray?

b.       The single most important piece of advice I know about prayer is also the simplest:   Just do it!

c.        How to do it is less important than just doing it. Less-than-perfect prayer is infinitely better than no prayer; more perfect prayer is only finitely better than less perfect prayer.

d.       So… Make time for prayer

e.        Of course, you will never find time to pray, so you have to make time to pray. You will have to say no to something else, in order to make time to pray. The only way to move in the tenant of prayer in the apartment building of your life, is to evict some other tenant from those premises that prayer will occupy. Few of us have any empty rooms available.


3.       Then there is the battle IN prayer itself


a.       With your faith – getting to the place where you can really trust the Lord

b.       With your fears – they usually have all your attention

c.        With impatience – waiting on God

d.       With sin in our lives and hearts – not wanting to face them, and repent of every one of them

e.        “Praying through” is a big concept – staying in prayer until everything is dealt with, and made right, and cast upon Jesus! Maybe we are too brief in our encounters with Jesus in prayer to get the answers we know we desperately need!?


4.       And then there is our battle with the will of God


a.       I have found that God’s will is almost NEVER my will!

b.       I see the things in my life as things “I” don’t need, and don’t want

c.        Jesus saw things coming at Him that He didn’t ask for

d.       But… and what a big act of acceptance… if THAT is what God wants to allow in my life, then so be it!


5.       But learn this… there is the victory that occurs FIRST while we are praying before we ever experience it afterwards (26:45,46). Jesus rose from off His knees and had the victory – He had the peace of God, and He had the POWER of God (John 18:1-6)!!! Listen to Hebrews 12:2-4!


D.      The Purpose of Prayer (26:39-41)


1.       To open us up to God


a.       The Bible opens up God to us – reveals what is in His mind, and in His heart. Well, prayer opens US up to God, and it only does it as we openly, and freely talk about what is in us!

b.       Prayer is supposed to help you to stop faking things, hiding things, and blocking things from coming out in the open between you and God

c.        It is so important to be real, and even hurt before God – we are so quick to seek revenge against people… yet God says, seek my face, and tell ME all about it, and “I WILL REPAY!” (Rom 12:19)

d.       If you are aching inside, then pray – tell the Lord all about it

e.        If you are sick, pray and tell God about it – walk with God through it (Ps 23:4)

f.        If you are having a great day, then pray, and tell God about it (Ps 100:4)

g.        How honest are you? Only as honest as you are towards God!


2.       To break us before God


a.       Hey! Consider this…


1)       If you are really praying, then you will not be demanding, but yielding!

2)       You won’t be commanding, but contrite.

3)       You won’t be manipulative of God, but rather clinging to His feet begging Him to act on your behalf, to help you, and to give you the grace you need!


b.       Our boldness in prayer is not to demand of God, but to just get access to God, and once there, to simply ask, knowing that He will help (Heb 4:16)

c.        It is a good things to get to the end of yourself so that you finally realise that you just CAN’T live the perfect Christian life – that you just CAN’T do all the things you are supposed to – that you just CAN‘T fight the good fight anymore in your own strength!

d.       You will only find strength when you have finished running on your own steam, and that will only happen when you find yourself praying!

e.        A Good Example


1)       I read this story about a man who saw something extraordinary one early morning during a dear chase…

2)       "Rising early one morning," he said, "I heard the baying of a group of deer hounds in pursuit of their catch. Looking away to a broad, open field in front of me, I saw a young fawn making its way across, and giving signs, moreover, that its race was well nigh run. Reaching the posts of the fence I was sitting on, it leaped over and crouched within ten feet from where I stood. A moment later two of the hounds came over, and in an instant, the fawn ran in my direction and pushed its head between my legs. I lifted the little thing to my breast, and, swinging round and round, fought off the dogs. I felt, just then, that all the dogs in the world could not, and should not capture that fawn after its weakness had appealed to my strength."

3)       So is it, when our human helplessness appeals to Almighty God. When the hounds of sin are after my soul, they will only wear me down until, at last, I run into the arms of Almighty God." A. C. Dixon.


f.        Oh how powerful is the broken will in the mighty arms of God!


3.       To prepare us for what lies ahead (Luke 22:47-53)


a.       Jesus, even though God, was living as a man, and had to pray for strength for the cross

b.       When was the last time you saw prayer as the most important thing you will do today?

c.        Jesus throughout His life teaches us that prayer was what he did first so that

d.       And I am not talking about flowery prayers of flattering words, but just simply the exchange of thoughts, and feelings, and worries and cares, so that we are strengthened by

e.        Listen to how this time of prayer helped Jesus


1)       It emboldened Him against every temptation, against Satanic attack

2)       It sweetened Him, even against Judas

3)       It enabled Him to forgive absolutely everyone against Him


f.        Just how much might a good dose of regular prayer help YOU?


E.       The Needed Persistence in Prayer (26:42-44)


1.       Do you think God heard Jesus the first time? Oh yes God heard

2.       But Jesus here is demonstrating the need to stay praying

a.       To pray is not like a drive-through window at McDonald’s

b.       To pray is to travel home to your parents, and sit down at supper, and to stay a while – to let an hour pass while praying!!! (26:40b)

3.       Listen to what Jesus wants in Revelation 3:20… He has been kicked OUT of the lives of the people at the church at Laodicea, and He was knocking, asking to be let back in

4.       What a sad picture of our Christianity

5.       Oh how little we are willing to “tarry” with the Lord (26:38) – it means to just linger, to wait, to not rush off

6.       What was Jesus waiting for?


a.       The peace of God that passes all understanding

b.       The answers to His questions – what is God’s will?

c.        The strength to go on (2Cor 12:7-10)

d.       The defeat of Satan. Satan was not defeated really on the cross, no. Satan was defeated on Christ’s knees! Amen!

e.        You had better believe He got everything He needed!

f.        Oh how few battles are won in our lives simply because we have fought it too late, when we should have fought them by our bedside, long before we came in contact with another person, or a temptation!


7.       There is SO MUCH help available to us, if only we waited for it when we prayed (Psalm 40:1)!


F.       The Path of Prayer (26:45,46)


1.       This wasn’t the end. Prayer IS THE beginning, Without prayer time, you are stuck in yesterday, in your failures, in your own limitations

2.       Once you pray, and lean on God, there is always a motion FORWARD

3.       To some people, they see prayer as something that is a whole other life

4.       They believe people who pray, don’t have jobs, or bills, or children

5.       Prayer is an engine that drives us down a path – a RIGHT path

6.       Jesus had now prayed, and was ready – no hesitation

7.       He was ready to go forward – never retreat, never give up, never go backwards

8.       There was NO backsliding with Jesus

9.       No wonder we find it so hard to keep going forward! We are pushing a trainload of care without the engine of prayer!!!

10.    Hey… if you DO keep falling out of the way, and never seem able to do what God is telling you to do, then you need to


a.       Cut the anchors that are holding you back from doing God’s will

b.       Whatever they are, in prayer


G.      The Plan for Prayer.


1.       You probably noticed I haven't said a word about techniques yet. That's because three-quarters is preparation, remember? But what about methods? Simple things to make prayer effective….


2.       Decide to Pray. Deciding to do that is the first thing. And you probably won't decide to do it, only wish to do it, unless you see prayer for what it is: a matter of life or death, your lifeline to God, to life itself.

3.       Plan your Prayer. Prayer is like a big dinner.  It takes one hour to eat it and yet several hours to prepare it.


a.       Make Time for Prayer


1)       Rearrange your lives around it. Rearranging your time, preparing time to pray, is like preparing your house to paint. As everyone knows who has done any painting, preparation is three-quarters the work, three-quarters the hassle, and three-quarters the time. The actual painting is a breeze compared with the preparation. The same is true of prayer: the hardest step is preparing a place, a time, a sacred and uninterruptable part of each day for it.

2)       So make time for it. And not just 2 minutes! The first and most important piece of practical preparation is scheduling. You absolutely must schedule a regular time for prayer, whether you are a "scheduler" with other things in your life or not.  One quick minute in the morning to offer your day to God is better than nothing at all, of course, but it is just as inadequate as one quick minute a day with your wife or husband. You simply must decide each day to free up your schedule so you can pray.

3)       How long a time? That varies with individuals and situations, of course; but the very barest minimum should certainly be at least fifteen minutes. You can't really count on getting much deep stuff going on in less time than that. If fifteen minutes seems too much to you, that fact is powerful proof that you need to pray much more to get your head on straight.

4)       After it becomes more habitual and easy, expand it, double it. And later, double it again. Aim at an hour each day, if you want radical results. (Do you? Or are you only playing?)

5)       Reminder - You will have to say “no!” to something else, in order to make time to pray.

6)       What time of day is best? The most popular time—bedtime—is usually the worst possible time, for two reasons.


a)       First, it tends not to be prime time but the worst time, when you're the least alert and awake.

b)       Second, it won't work. If you wait until every other obligation is taken cared of first before you pray, you simply won't pray. The horse has already left the barn – there is no good in shutting the door AFTER everything has happened!.

c)       The most obvious and usually best time is early in the morning. If you can't delay the other things you do, you simply must get up that much earlier.

d)       Should it be the very first thing? That depends. Some people are alert as soon as they get up; others need to shower and dress to wake up. The important thing is to give God the best time, and "just do it."

e)       Place is almost as important as time. You should make one special place where you can be undisturbed.


b.       Make a List – sounds mechanical, but most of us have very undisciplined minds that tend to only think of our own needs, and to think of what has to be done today. So we need a list of things and people to pray for so that we actually pray instead of wander


4.       Pray with Scripture, reading and praying at the same time, reading in God's presence, receiving the words from God's mouth.

5.       Pray out loud. I am not good at all at silent prayer; my thoughts hop around like fleas on a dog. Praying aloud keeps me praying, at least. And I find it often naturally leads to silent prayer, or "mental prayer," or contemplation, but I had to first start with my mouth

6.       Listen! The Lord will answer you in the stillness of all that time you spend with Him!


IV.    Conclusion - Admonition


A.      We have seen a powerful glimpse into the prayer life of Jesus Christ!


1.       This is where Jesus prayed the words of John 17 – His high priestly prayer

2.       This is also where Judas betrayed Jesus into the hands of the Pharisees

3.       This is where Jesus defeated Satan’s final and fiercest attacks against Him, trying to kill Him before the cross

4.       The challenge is for all of us to have such a time in prayer that the same kind of victories occur in OUR lives


B.      I’ve called this, Gethsemane Praying, because it is THIS kind of praying that we need.

C.      Most advice on prayer focuses on specific methods of prayer. But I believe that most of us are “prayer infants” and need to learn to walk before we can run. We will find a great example of solid prayer walking in Matthew 26!

D.      There must be a Place of Prayer in your life – your own Gethsemane

E.       You should have some People of Prayer that pray with you from time to time

F.       You should expect to fight your Battles IN Prayer

G.      There are vital Purposes for Prayer – do you realize how vital?


1.       To open us up to God

2.       To break us before God - Oh how powerful is the broken will in the mighty arms of God!

3.       To prepare us for what lies ahead (Luke 22:47-53)


H.      Real Praying Requires Persistence – not a once off event

I.        Prayer puts you on the right Path

J.        Powerful Praying Needs Planning

K.      Have you come to Gethsemane, unprepared? That’s okay. At least stay awake, and the Lord will teach you how to pray – all He asks is for us to make the effort, and take the time

L.       Such a small sacrifice for such victory