How Gethsemane Helps Stretch Your Prayers Past Your Pain

By asking only for relief, we may miss a surprising blessing.

It’s possible your prayers don’t go far enough. Maybe they need some stretching. I know mine do. Often our prayers begin and end with asking God to change the way things are around us.

How Gethsemane Helps Stretch Our Prayers Past Our Pain

(Photo: Mosaic of Jesus praying in Gethsemane. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Our prayers have a familiar pattern:

  • “Provide enough money this month”
  • “Protect us as we travel”
  • “Heal my friend from pain”
  • —etc.

These are fine prayers, and all legitimate, but incomplete. They just don’t go far enough. By asking only for relief, we may miss a surprising blessing. 

Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane helps us stretch our prayers past our pain.

Warming Up to Stretch

If you think about it, asking God to bless our circumstances may be praying for Him to change nothing about them. Perhaps He may even allow them to worsen so that true blessing may result. This kind of a mindset stretches our prayer lives further than the here and now.

Jesus had this perspective when He prayed in Gethsemane:

Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done. —Luke 22:42

Gnarled olive trees in Garden of Gethsemane

(Photo: Gnarled olive trees in Garden of Gethsemane. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Life will hand you what seems like a raw deal. Solutions seem as gnarled as the olive trunks in Gethsemane. And when God’s answer to your prayers seems cruel and anything but good, you will wage no greater battle than the surrender of your will.

At that moment, when God’s goodness seems far away, you stand only inches away from using anger to justify your sin.

But I promise you, surrender lies at the very core of whatever grieves you.

Stretching Past Our Pain

Surrendering in absolute trust to the Father—as Jesus did in Gethsemane—remains the path to peace. Jesus prayed for different conditions, sure, but Jesus also allowed for the perspective that the Father knows all. The Father may have a better plan that includes pain.

A better plan? Often, yes. In Jesus’ case, it included struggle.

Garden of Gethsemane olive trees

(Photo: Garden of Gethsemane olive trees. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Tell me what is better:

  • A proud person with good conditions?
  • A humble person in all conditions?

You and I both know the right answer. But do we believe it enough to pray for God’s will? That’s the struggle.

We stretch our prayers when we pray past our pain toward its purpose. By asking only for relief, we may miss a surprising blessing. 

Question: What do you pray when you’re hurting? To leave a comment, just click here.

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  • Catherine-Grace Patrick

    Oh, Wayne! How I needed your blessed words of wisdom, today — and what a blessing to read them! May He continue to bless you, mightily, for you are indeed precious in His sight and such a blessing to others! THANK YOU, Catherine-Grace, in San Diego

  • Thank you, Catherine-Grace.

  • Emily

    Thanks Wayne! I love this:
    you will wage no greater battle than the surrender of your will. 
    But I promise you, surrender lies at the very core of whatever grieves you. And surrendering in absolute trust to the Father—as Jesus did in Gethsemane—remains the path to peace.
    Lord have mercy!
    🙂 emily

    •  Yes, Emily, that truth is a hard lesson, isn’t it? But so essential to peace of mind. Thank you for your comment.

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  • Ahma

    That during the pain and uncertainty I would honor Him in obedience. During moments of greatest challenge of the deep of the fire choosing to name each blessing from literal A to Z with gratitude of the goodness of God in my life and what my eyes see of the world outside my bed of protracted inflammation, fluctuating challenges and sometimes crushing defeat…that He is risen. And I get to praise Him. And that’s a good thing because it releases a supernatural joy that reverberates on a spiritual harmonic that reaches me in the pit. He is Risen. He is for me. And I have been chosen and trusted for this suffering. Not the other way around. This is a polishing a promotion. When I can pray and thank God, my alignment is made true. And it remains cool in the fire. And that’s when I’ve been humbled to be used of The Lord with others in the hospital or exam room with a medical tech. He loves me. He’s for me. He’s risen. God’s got a plan. How can I not be thankful.

    • Well said, Ahma. Keeping that perspective is so essential. Thanks for your words of encouragement.

  • Rosemary

    Only yesterday my sister n I were discussing this very topic. I was at my wits’ end and said in exasperation: surely I must be the worst ever sinner to go through so much relentless pain. I am an extremely patient person and know that God is waiting with His reward seeing how far I will prevail, Yet my human nature makes me frustrated when we see no no end in sight even after 30-40 years of dysfunctionality in our family. Surely God has a better plan and purpose for our lives….cant wait to find out what that is…SOON please God!!

  • Your struggle is not uncommon, Rosemary, though it feels like you’re the only one. It’s for that EXACT reason I wrote my new book, Waiting on God: What To Do When God Does Nothing. It releases in just a few months, but you can pre-order anytime. I really think it will encourage you, as it deals with the very issues you’re struggling with. We’ve all been there. God bless.

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  • Ron McClarty

    I pray for God to use His healing power and to direct doctors and His Holy Spirit to comfort the family as 3 year Lottie was struggling for life after a drowning situation. After nearly 3 days of prayers and struggle, she is in heaven. I pray for the friends and family to accept the answer and lift any burden of guilt.

    • I can’t imagine the pain and confusion such a tragedy leaves in its wake. I join you, Ron, in prayer for God’s grace and comfort for this dear family.

  • Donna Rasmussen

    We are asking God for special grace to deal with neighbors after one man’s fight with another neighbor’s do resulted them jumping on our car and smashing the windshield. The car will be fixed today, thankfully. Our neighbors need the Lord. Noted Rosemary’s note below and your new book sounds very helpful. And I also read one yesterday, The Scars That Have Shaped Me by Vaneetha Risner which would be very helpful and is downloadable as a free PDF on desiringGod.org.

    • Thanks for your comment, Donna. Yes, there is a world that desperately needs our Savior—just as we do. I’m glad you’re in their lives to pray for them. I’m also glad your windshield will get fixed! God bless.

  • Michelle thick

    Good read when I pary I ask what I want. But then I say I don’t know if it’s your will God. You are in charge and you know what is better for me and you know my plan in life. But I need to be more vigilant in that way of prayer. I get cought up in asking God to do what I think should be sometimes. My prayer list is going to have to change. When I pray for what I see is right I worry and get anxious. That will change I will ask for his grace and provide for the people I pray for the way he knows is best. Wow I have been struggling with that lately and have been down. God knows best. Thsnk you again Wayne. God Bless

    • I have that same struggle too, Michelle. I forget to qualify my prayers with Jesus’ words: “Your will be done.” Our Savior was amazing.

  • ARM BAR

    Normally i will pray to God to remove that hurt from me,especially when i was completely cornered and feel like being attacked from all sides,it is good if we could understand God’s perspective about our suffering,and for me that’s like thinking out of the box in Heavenly ways ,which is not easy to do of course,and it needs training everyday in our life,and yes i’m still learning how to do that Wayne ,struggle everyday to completely trust God in my life.

    • We’re all still learning how to surrender to the Lord. He knows our hearts— that we long to honor Him but we struggle with weakness.

  • Breitnica Mascarenhas

    I pray for God’s will to be done & to keep me strong enough to accept it….because that is what is best for me.

    • Accepting God’s will is the challenge, isn’t it? Only He sees the big picture. We have to trust in His goodness and His purposes.

      • Breitnica Mascarenhas

        Yes it is Wayne….Faith, patience & endurance has brought me closer to my goal. A year back I had subscribed to your posts and it had taught me a lot, I’m still learning to depend on God wholly. Now each & every thing is working out well according to His plan. Thank you Wayne. God Bless You and your loved ones.

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