The Hardest Prayers Ever Prayed
Have you ever felt like you wanted to give up on a certain situation or person? Or that forgiving someone was too hard? Or that life was just too difficult, frightening, or sad? Or that God didn’t care about you? Or that prayer really didn’t make a difference in your case….in your world, for your problems. That God was making you suffer for some reason and he didn’t hear you.
Jesus felt some of the desperate feelings you and I have felt at times… He prayed some of the most challenging…..heart-rending prayers found in scripture….. just before He went to the cross. And He promised great results when we do pray!
I’d like to share with you today how Jesus’ own prayers and promises can help us face the future with courage, find peace in turbulent times and forgive those who have wounded us.
1. Jesus’ life can help us face the future with courage by submitting to God’s will for our lives: “Not my will, but yours……” Mark 14:32-36 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” NIV
Jesus, because He is God, knew that He would be put to death on a cross. He talked about it to the disciples to prepare them. He cried out to God in the garden of Gethsemane because He knew he would suffer greatly. But, He knew that by obeying His Father’s will to die on that cross God would accomplish a great purpose: To pay the price for the sin of the world and reconcile those who put their trust in Him. He surrendered His life and will even though it meant tremendous suffering.
John 3: 16-17 says it all: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. NIV
What difference has surrendering my life to Jesus made? …. when I was 12 years old my parents got divorced….. I cried out to God: Lord, fill the emptiness inside! The loneliness, feelings of abandonment and fear were overwhelming after my Dad left. Life was scary …. I rarely saw Dad. .. and we had difficulty living solely on my Mom’s income. I struggled with feelings of emptiness inside…. This painful event left me with a deep sense of insecurity in the world and triggered longings for peace, security, God and eternity. Pascal wrote, “there is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man.” I felt that God-shaped vacuum… that described me to a tee. [Accepting God’s will……in suffering and loss when facing life crises…… experiencing peace in the midst of trouble]:
Though I knew about Christ from many Sunday school stories, I felt far from Him. I believed the Bible stories I had learned but, I didn’t really know Jesus personally. At that time, I realized I was a sinner in need of a Savior and that having a head knowledge about Jesus wasn’t enough to save me or make me right before God. I discovered that I needed to commit my life to Him and trust Him personally as my Savior and Lord. Taking that step turned my life around. I felt immediate and supernatural peace about life and the future because I knew that I could trust God to help me face the future and that He had a plan for my life.
Life has not been a bowl of cherries though I have experienced tremendous joy ….. since turning my life over to Christ, I have also continued to face turbulence….. surgery, infertility, financial upheaval, loss of loved ones…where prayers to accept God’s will in my life were necessary to experience His peace in the midst of trouble.
2. “Father, Forgive Them…..” From Jesus’ life we can learn to Forgive those who have wounded us….. and thus, be freed from bitterness:
Luke 23:34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. NIV
This is one of the most significant and difficult prayers contained in the Bible: one of Jesus’ prayer as He hung dying on the cross. What led up to this prayer? Jesus had spent hours of suffering on the cross…..had been beaten….. humiliated…. jeered….. laughed at….. but, his last words were…..to His Father in heaven “Father, forgive them”….for they know not what they do. Jesus, the Savior of the world, the Lord of the universe, the sacrificial Lamb for the sins of the world, in excruciating pain, called out to His Father…. and played the advocate for those who conspired and consorted to crucify Him….those who treated him ….the Son of God as a criminal…. those whose sin put Jesus on the cross to die. Jesus, the Lamb of God, perfect, holy, without sin, treated as a criminal for no reason…..then crucified.
How could Jesus forgive and ask His Father to forgive those who put Him to death? Because He is the Savior. He is God…. and He can forgive .. His death paid the price for those sins….. and He knew that in 3 days He would rise from the dead triumphing over sin and death. Help me to forgive those who caused me great harm: “Forgive them, for they know not what they do……”
My Dad had physically and verbally abused me. It was difficult to forgive and forget the wounds he had inflicted on me as a child and then, his abandonment during my teen years after the divorce. But, I prayed that Christ’s love would pour through me to him and that God would someday save him. Because I knew he was a sinner and that only the Savior could change his life. God somehow gave me an unconditional love and the forgiveness for my Dad. Though he would taunt me about my faith.. it was so obvious that he greatly needed my Savior. Years later I learned that a former Bible college Dean led my Dad to Christ just a few weeks before he died.
The story of Corrie ten Boom
One outstanding example of forgiveness occurred years ago when Corrie ten Boom was speaking at a church about how to discover God ‘s forgiveness through trusting in Christ.In the audience was a former Nazi guard who had abused her and her sister during their imprisonment in Germany. He was one of the cruelest guards.
This guard now greeted her by saying,”A fine message, Fraulein! How good it is to know that,as you say,all our sins are at the bottom of the sea! I have become a Christian since the war. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there.Will you forgive me?” As he extended his hand toward her,Corrie resisted. Face to face with one of her captors, she felt unable to act.
She later wrote,”I whose sins had again and again needed to be forgiven could not forgive. Betsie had died in that place–could he erase her slow,terrible death simply by the asking? I wrestled with the most difficult thing I ever had to do.” Then she remembered that Jesus said,”If you do not forgive men their trespasses,neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” In obedience to God,she prayed,Jesus,help me! I can lift my hand.I can do that much. You supply the feeling. As she thrust her hand toward him,a current started in her shoulder,raced down her arm,and sprang into their joined hands. “This healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being,bringing tears to my eyes.‘I forgive you,brother! ‘I cried.‘With all my heart. ‘For a long moment, we grasped each other’s hands–the former guard and the former prisoner.I had never known God ‘s love so intensely as I did then.But even so,I realized it was not my love. It was the power of the Holy Spirit as recorded in Romans 5:5:‘because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.'”God had poured out His love through Corrie in a supernatural act of forgiveness to her former enemy…..freeing her from bitterness.
3. How can you find peace and joy in turbulent times? By relying on the promises of Christ and beginning with a personal relationship with Him:
Jesus said: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27 When we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ we will experience His peace in our lives… Maybe you are unsure of your salvation…uncertain about whether you have been forgiven and are going to heaven…. Jesus Christ offers you salvation because He died for your sins and rose from the dead. You can call on God and trust in His Son in the same way a drowning person calls for help and relies on the rescue of a lifeguard.
Romans 10:9 says: “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved”.(NIV) The salvation Christ offers does not depend on what we have done for Him, but on our acceptance in who He is and what He has done for us. Instead of moral and religious effort, this salvation requires a helpless admission of our sins. Instead of personal accomplishments, it requires confession of failure to meet God’s standard of holiness. Unlike all other belief systems, Christ asks us to trust solely in Him and His work on the cross and to commit our lives to Him–not to merit salvation but as an expression of gratitude, love, and confidence in the One who has saved us solely by grace (the unmerited favor of God).
Eph 2:8-9 says: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith– and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast”.(NIV)
Salvation is a gift God offers us: Rom 6:23 says: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”(NIV) Won’t you consider asking Christ into your life today.
Just pray with me simply: Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner in need of forgiveness. I turn my life over to you because I believe that You died for my sins and You are the only way to heaven and to have peace with God. You are the only One who can save and forgive me. Please cleanse me of my sins, come into my life and change me today. In Jesus’ Name I ask this. Amen
If you have prayed this prayer Jesus says in Matt. 29:20: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV)
As Christians we can discover anew the promises of Christ for peace and joy by obeying His commands
• to always pray,
• to pray in His name (and will),
• to pray for the impossible
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. Luke 18:1 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. John 16:24 He replied, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20 These prayers and promises give us great hope for living…. and can free us from fear, bitterness and unhappiness….to help us face the future with courage, give us peace in turbulent times., to forgive those who have wounded us and to pray big…… because our God is awesome and nothing is too hard for Him. Luke 1:37 For nothing is impossible with God.
Do you still believe in miracles? Can you still believe in miracles? Jesus Christ, the miracle maker wants more for your life….. you can discover this today. What miracle do you want to ask Jesus for? What is your hardest prayer request? What is your most difficult prayer request? Maybe you have several?
Write a sentence on a card to remind you about these requests.
Prayers for : forgiveness of someone who has greatly hurt you or from someone you have hurt. Healing for yourself, emotionally, physically, mentally…. Relief from guilt: experiencing God’s forgiveness towards you….. Placing your trust in Christ as Lord and Savior…. Reconciliation with….. Job or financial difficulties Stress relief Courage to face an unknown future Acceptance of God’s will Family situations: alcohol, abuse, bitterness, anger….. Courage to go on when you feel afraid. Faith and hope in difficult life circumstances….. Salvation of loved ones….
Carry this card in your wallet where you can see it and be reminded to pray. Ask God for the faith to believe that He will give you what you need, that He will answer your prayers….. whether it is yes, no, wait…that you will accept His answer, His will for your life. That He will help you to still believe in miracles…. because with God nothing is impossible.
© copyright 2019 by Lynette J. Hoy, NCC, LCPC, CAMS-V