Daily Word

Agonizing prayer | Matthew 26:42-46

42 Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away[ f ] unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open.

44 So he went to pray a third time, saying the same things again. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But look—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!”

Matthew 26:42-46 (NLT) 中文

The struggle continues

As we mentioned in the previous post, Jesus and the 11 disciples are in the Garden of Gethsemane. Judas is sealing the deal with the religious leaders. Peter, James and John have been selected to “keep watch” with Jesus. But…they fall asleep! 

Why 3 times?

As I read this, I wonder, “Why did Jesus pray three times?” Isn’t just one time enough? Help me think through some ideas. Maybe it’s a combination? Maybe you will share your own ideas in the comments?

  • For us. He prayed three times to show us it’s OK to seek God multiple times on the same matter. He doesn’t tire of us seeking Him. But that is a key, Jesus is seeking the Father, not His own ideas or desires. And, consequently, He is seeking the Father’s will, not His own. Paul sought the Lord 3 times about his thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:8-10). However, we don’t want to be like the pagans offering empty repetitions (Matthew 6:7). Psalm 34 encourages us to seek Him. And in Matthew 6:33 Jesus tells us to, “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided to you.”
  • Represent Father, Son and Holy Ghost. God is a trinity. Could it be Jesus, as a man, was petitioning the godhead as a trinity? I wouldn’t go as far as to say He prayed to each individually since that becomes strange for Him to pray to Himself or, the man Jesus to pray to the God Jesus.
  • Impact. Surely a reason for praying three times was to show the impact of His decision and the suffering it would soon bring. It was agonizing. Jesus knew He would do the Father’s will yet it would not be easy.

Betrayal at hand

Jesus knows Judas is about to arrive so concludes His season of agonized prayer, during which Luke reports He sweat drops of blood (Luke 22:44). He tells the disciples to get up, it’s time for the betrayal.


  • When we pray, God wants us to diligently seek Him. At times do you find yourself neglecting to commune with the Father and offering just thanks for food and an occasional “bless you”? Prayer is so much more. Are you seeking Him?
  • How do you respond to Jesus’ prayer? Leave a comment.
Garden of Gethsemane olive trees. Image from maps.google.com *

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