What in the world did He pray about?
Ever wonder that?
The Gospels record that when Jesus walked the earth, he slipped away often to pray--sometimes all night.
But wait a minute...
If he was God in the flesh, why did he need to pray? Didn't the Father already know what He was gonna say?
We are familiar with his final recorded prayer the night before his crucifixion, and the famous line: "Not my will, but thine be done." We view it as though that was the first and only time he prayed something like that.
But I don't think so.
Often the destruction to which our world is headed overwhelms me. The darkness that creeps steadily over the earth, the perversion, the evil, the foolishness of the human race makes everything seem so hopeless. I cry out, "Lord, take me out of this! I want out of here!"
Then Jesus reminds me that he knows exactly how I feel. Evil has been evil since that first bite of forbidden fruit. It's nothing new to Him. He's disgusted, but not shocked. He's seen it all before.
I can see Him headed into the wilderness to be alone with his Father where he most likely cries out the same thing. "Father, it's awful down here! They hate me, they hate You. The sin makes me sick to my stomach and no one wants the truth. Please, Father. Isn't there some other way? Please...can't you get me out of here?"
Yet even as he cried out his sorrow to God, he saw me praying the same thing 2000 years later. God showed him the echoes of that prayer in the hearts of the ones he'd come to redeem. Millions of echoes, down through time, following his lead.
After pouring out his heart to his Father, he would have ended it with: "Even so, Father. Not my will but yours be done. If that means staying here and seeing it through, then that's what I want too."
And on my knees, I can finish the same way. If Jesus was willing to submit to God's will rather than his own, I can too. If He wants me to stay a while longer and contribute to his Kingdom, then who am I to ask for something different?
Submitting ourselves to God's will can be the toughest challenge we ever face. Often it looks very different from what we would choose. We can't do it on our own, because everything within us wants to run, to change plans, to find an easier path. Jesus felt that, too. He placed himself in the strong arms of his Father when earth got to be too much.
And that choice sets the bar for the rest of us. We have the same source from which to draw strength. Jesus wanted us to know that.
And that's why he prayed.