Following Jesus Through Holy Week

Thursday: Prayer in Gethsemane

No one understands better than God how difficult it can be for a human to embrace the will of God. And no human has suffered more in embracing the will of God the Father than God the Son. When Jesus calls us to follow him, whatever the cost, he is not calling us to do something he is either unwilling to do or has never done himself.

Jon Bloom, Your Sorrow Will Turn to Joy


Matthew 26:36-46

36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch[a] with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” 40 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on.[b] See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”


In Luke’s account of Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, he boils down the three times of prayer into one, and he adds an important detail.

Luke 22:42–44

42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

Part of God’s answer to the Son’s prayer was sending Him an angel to “strengthen him.” What did the angel say or do to “strengthen” Jesus? We don’t know. What we do know is that after the visit of the angel, “he prayed more earnestly.” 

How important is prayer? If we ponder this prayer long enough, it seems that Jesus’ prayer is what enabled Him to submit himself to the betrayer that arrives and the suffering that ensues.


James Montgomery’s Hymn, “Go to Dark Gethsemane”, written in 1825 is a rich reminder and exhortation to pray as Jesus prayed. After reading it, spend a few moments thanking Jesus for His prayer and His obedience.

Go to dark Gethsemane,
You who feel the tempter's pow'r;
Your Redeemer's conflict see;
Watch with Him one bitter hour;
Turn not from His griefs away;
Learn of Jesus Christ to pray.


If you are able to, find a quiet place outdoors, preferably where you can be alone for a few moments. Sit quietly and simply listen. Listen to Creation. Look about you at the handiwork of God. Breathe in deeply. There is something about a “Garden.” The Bible tells us we were made for life in a garden, we lost that life in a garden, and today the Son of God is experiencing a troubled, sorrowful heart in a garden—such that His sweat is like drops of blood. And He does so in order that we might enter the “garden of life” once again.