"During the days of Jesus' life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the One who could save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverent submission." Hebrews 5:7
"He withdrew about a stone's throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 'Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.' An angel from heaven appeared to Him and strengthened Him. And being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground." Luke 22:41-44
The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus prayed with loud cries and tears to the One who could save Him from death and He was heard because of His reverent submission. In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed until His sweat was like blood. The writer of Hebrews says that Jesus' prayer was heard, yet Jesus didn't get out of death on the cross. Jesus had His prayer answered and He was crucified.
Many of us feel that God's answers to prayer get us what we want.
While Christine and I were trying to have a baby we prayed a lot. We both prayed to the point of tears on multiple occasions. Christine prayed fervently while recounting great promises of Scripture. People would hear about our struggle and say things like "no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless" (Psalm 84:11)
Now Christine is pregnant and we are thrilled. But is Christine pregnant because we prayed and God answered?
In part the answer is 'yes', of course because only God can make life. It's yes because if infertility teaches us anything it's that you can do everything right and still not get pregnant. So yes, Christine is pregnant and that is an answer to our prayers. But what about others who pray and are more blameless than we are? What about Jesus? He was completely blameless and prayed so fervently that He began to sweat blood. Why didn't He get the thing He asked for? So, in part, the answer is 'no', she isn't pregnant because we asked and prayed really hard.
Prayer is a mystery. God is sovereign and has the perfect plan. He doesn't need us to ask nicely to decide to follow the perfect plan. He doesn't sit on His throne and all the sudden go, "Wow, there's 200 people praying for this, I better do it." YET, He is pleased when we pray. YET, He has ordained that our prayers be a part of His perfect execution of His perfect plan.
So, we pray and we pray hard. But we realize that sometimes our prayers are heard the way Jesus' prayer was heard. If Jesus can have His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane answered the way it was, then brace yourself for the same thing.
Let's finish what the writer of Hebrews says about Jesus' prayer:
"During the days of Jesus' life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the One who could save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverent submission. Although He was a Son, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him." Hebrews 5:7-9
Jesus prayed for relief from the cross and didn't get it. Instead, Jesus got to be the source of all salvation. If God doesn't answer your prayer the way you think He should, realize that He's got something better in mind to do to and through you. You may never see it, but know that it's bigger and better than what you had in mind.
Pray fervently with confidence and know that God will do what's absolutely best today.