By Nick Batzig
No one has ever come close to modeling what a prayer life ought to look like so much as our Lord Jesus Christ. He was constantly pulling away from the crowds and from His disciples to have His soul strengthened in communion with His Father. He is the eternal Son, equal with the Father in divine power and glory, yet He is fully man and subject to all the needs of a human soul. Jesus needed to pray throughout His earthly ministry. And, while His example allows us to learn many things about our own need to commit to a life of prayer, there was something distinct about Jesus’s prayers. This is observed in the Garden of Gethsemane where He began His sufferings for our redemption.
When Jesus and His disciples entered this place of solitude, “he told [them], ‘Sit here while I pray’” (Mark 12:34). There is a process to how Jesus pulls Himself away from the disciples in the garden. He separates from them, returns to them, and then goes back to pray further away from them. Though He expressed His need for their prayers, He was left to pray alone as they slept. This was a physical parable of sorts.
Scottish minister Eric Alexander explained that as Jesus pulled away from the disciples to pray, “He moved out into the no-man’s land of human sin and shame, and the agony of bearing the burden of it, the spiritual distance was infinite.” Jesus alone could accomplish redemption for us. He alone would drink the cup of God’s wrath in our place. The loneliness of Jesus there in the garden, praying, symbolized the singular task He had come into the world to accomplish.
The Savior did not shrink back from the eternal plan of redemption, though He was “deeply grieved to the point of death” (Mark 14:34). Instead, He brought Himself entirely before the Father, falling face-down in prayer, acknowledging the enormity of the coming hours, asking if the cup might pass from Him, and yet, ultimately, submitting to the will of the Father (vv.35–36).
Soon, He would be separated from the Father for the first and only time, taking on the wrath of God, and giving His life up as a ransom for many (Mark 10:34–35). For you and for me and for all of humanity. Through His prayer in that garden, Jesus gained the strength He sought to go forward with the work the Father had given Him to do. The writer of Hebrews tells us that He was heard for His godly fear when He prayed with tears to the only one who was able to save Him from death (Hebrews 5:7). And His prayer was answered through His own death and resurrection.
When we realize all that Jesus endured for us, how can we not thank Him for what He accomplished? His resolve to press through the agony and loss of fellowship with the Father paid for our redemption. In turn, how can we not seek to grow in communion with Him? The example of Jesus’s prayer in the garden is the most heart-stirring motivation for our own life of prayer.