Then, accompanied by the disciples, Jesus left the upstairs room and went as usual to the Mount of Olives. There he told them, “Pray that you will not give in to temptation.”
He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood. NLT)
Wouldn’t it be lovely if each time we prayed we had a serene calmness about us and that afterwards our prayers were quickly answered with us getting out of a tight spot? It wasn’t like that for Jesus and isn’t for us on many occasions.
We must not assume Jesus is praying without concern, even without anxiety. Remember that occasional anxiety can be viewed as an affliction rather than a sin. Feeling guilty about being anxious will only increase anxiety! Jesus was in such a state that he sweated profusely: the sweat had the consistency of blood droplets.
Prayer involves struggle. Prayer can be agonising as we wrestle, as Jesus did, with our desire to be obedient and yet avoid pain and suffering. In one sense, Jesus’ prayer was not answered: the cup of suffering didn’t pass him by. In another sense, it was answered in that he did God’s will in the end—which entailed suffering. So it can be with our own prayers.
Prayer is not some easy option, a magic wand whereby we vaporise all difficulties. It is confronting those difficulties with the help of God. And he helped Jesus with an angel. So he helps us, causing us to recognise that angels can have very human faces.