Joshua J. Masters |
Revival comes when the people of God pray through suffering to reveal and live in the victory of Jesus Christ.
Praying (Together) Through…
Message 4 • Distress
Joshua J. Masters
April 10, 2022
A. PRAYING TOGETHER
Good morning, Brookwood.
And Happy Palm Sunday.
We’re going to do two things today.
First, we’re going to conclude our series on becoming a praying church… and as we do that, we’ll also begin to prepare our hearts for Easter.
I’ve heard so many stories of what God has done through this series and in your prayer circles.
But I believe this is just the beginning of what God is going to do in this church and through this movement of prayer!
Do you believe that?
Then let’s take a moment to recap where we’ve been and how we can move forward together.
In week one of this series, we dedicated ourselves to come together in a wave of ongoing prayer so we can see revival.
The church must pray (together) through DIVISION into UNITY.
In week two, we looked at how the enemy uses our discouragement to try and break that unity.
So, The church must pray (together) through DISAPPOINTMENT into TRUST. (For God’s plan).
Then, once we begin to trust God’s plan, in Week 3, we prayed for God’s direction in our lives and for Brookwood Church.
The church must pray (together) through UNCERTAINTY into CONFIDENCE. (That God will act)
And if we want to see true revival, we must continue praying together after the series ends.
These things must become part of our culture, part of our identity.
Brookwood will not be known as a church of revival until it’s known as a church of prayer.
So, what steps should we take moving forward?
MOVING FORWARD TOGETHER:
- Regular Prayer and Fasting (with your Community Groups or family).
- Sunday Morning Prayer
8:15 am • Auditorium
- Intercessory and Watchers Prayer Teams
Those are ongoing disciplines.
But I’m excited to share one more way we proclaim God’s glory and seek His direction for this church as a kind of exclamation point at the end of our series.
Are you ready?
We’re going to take the 16 prayer prompts from this series and we’re going to do a prayer walk together around this church building tomorrow morning!
Prayer Walk • Tomorrow, Monday, April 11 • 7 am • Amphitheater
Many people call this week leading up to Easter, Holy Week.
And what better way to prepare our hearts for Easter and pray for this church than to come together just after sunrise on the first day of Holy Week and walk around the perimeter of our church in guided prayer?
So, I will meet you in the Amphitheater tomorrow morning. The Prayer Walk will only be 30 minutes so you have plenty of time to get to work or school.
We’ll give you everything you need, just be sure you’re at the amphitheater, ready to walk by 7am.
Who will come?
This is not the end of series, but the launch of an ongoing, transforming prayer movement among our church.
But as we pursue God’s direction and revival, the enemy will move against us.
We will face attack, trials, and even suffering.
So, today we’re going to learn how to pray (together) through that pain.
The church must pray (together) through SUFFERING into VICTORY.
And there’s no greater prayer of suffering than Christ’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.
That’s found in Matthew 26,
starting in verse 36.
>>So go ahead and turn or swipe there in your Bibles (pg.797).
This is just after Jesus shared the Last Supper with His disciples.
And these prayers in the garden represent Christ’s last moments of freedom before He is betrayed and arrested on His way to the cross.
Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and He said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and He became anguished and distressed.
Matthew 26:36–37 (NLT)
So, as Jesus brings the 11 remaining disciples to Gethsemane.
He tells 8 of them to sit and wait while He goes to pray, but He takes His three closest friends with Him, where He becomes overwhelmed with emotion.
He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with Me.”
Matthew 26:38 (NLT)
Jesus is filled with so much anguish and grief that it feels like it could kill Him.
Have you ever had that feeling—like the weight of your grief is so heavy on your chest that you can’t breathe?
It says, Jesus was crushed with grief.
What do you think brought Him to this state?
Certainly, the physical suffering He’s about to endure.
But it’s more than that.
Remember in week one of the series when we talked about the perfect unity between Christ and the Father?
--That Jesus had lived in perfect union with the Father?
Well, in a few hours, that union will be broken, and after living a perfect life, Jesus knows He will be separated from the Father.
And in week two, we talked about God’s wrath--How severely sin and disobedience must be dealt with by a Holy God.
Well, in a few hours, Jesus will take on the full consequences of God’s wrath.
He’s about to become sin and take generations of mankind’s punishment on His shoulders.
Look at 2 Corinthians:
For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin [to become sin itself], so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (NLT)
There’s no suffering we will face that is greater than this.
So, as we look at how Christ approached His darkest hour, we’ll see how to approach suffering in our own lives.
What’s the first thing Jesus does (that we’ve already read)?
He surrounded Himself with His closest and most trusted friends.
B. In distress and anguish, we pray…
1. With prayer PARTNERS.
Most of the time, Jesus went off to pray by Himself, but in His darkest hour of grief, He brought His 3 closest friends to pray with Him—not all His friends. Just the most trusted.
Now, as you’ll see, they don’t turn out to be that helpful.
But Jesus says to them:
“Stay here and keep watch with Me.”
Matthew 26:38b (NLT)
That phrase in the original language has a connotation of both prayer and spiritual alertness.
And notice Jesus says, “with Me.”
He’s inviting Peter, James, and John to enter into prayer WITH Him, staying spiritually alert and interceding on His behalf.
Again and again, Scripture tells us to pray for one another and carry one another’s burdens.
We can’t go through them all today but you can read the cross references in your outline this week.
We’re called to pray through our burdens together.
But if that’s the case, why does Jesus only bring three?
If you’re in that much pain, why not bring in as many people as possible?
Why do you think?
Some people are not spiritually mature enough to be in that place of anguish with you without making it worse.
There are two types of friends in a crisis.
The kind that says, “God is this way. Let’s walk out of this mud together.”
The kind that loves the mud and will just roll around in it with you.
You don’t want mud dwellers in a crisis.
They’re what we call codependent.
If you want a full explanation of codependency, you can come to CR.
But here’s my definition of codependency in the church:
Codependency in the church is when someone takes Christ’s place in another person’s yoke.
They try to control you and will make your crisis about them.
So, we must bring trusted, mature believers into our grief with us for prayer and encouragement.
So, Jesus gathers His friends, asks them to pray,
And now, Jesus Himself turns to the Father.
He went on a little farther and bowed with His face to the ground [prostrate], praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from Me. Yet I want Your will to be done, not Mine.”
Matthew 26:39 (NLT)
Jesus falls down before the Father and pleads in His suffering.
In distress and anguish, we pray…
2. With a PROSTRATED heart, PLEADING in worship and submission.
Now, I know the word prostrate seems kind of churchy and strange, but it really is the best description of how we come before God in distress.
Remember last week when Jehoshaphat admitted He was powerless before God, looking for direction? He fell, prostrate before God.
This is what it means:
verb: To put (oneself) in a humble and submissive posture or state.
noun: Stretched out with face on the ground in adoration or submission.
Jesus falls down prostrate, pleading in worship and submission to the Father’s will.
“My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from Me. Yet I want Your will to be done, not mine.”
Matthew 26:39b (NLT)
There are two things Jesus prays in His suffering.
He pleads for the suffering to be removed if it can be.
He asks that it NOT to be removed if there’s a greater purpose in it.
Was it sinful for Jesus to ask the Father to take away His suffering?
We can plead to God in our suffering, but in that pleading, we also submit to God’s greater plan.
We know intellectually that God works all things together for good (Romans 8:28) but in our suffering, we can’t see what possible good comes from it.
We don’t have the perspective to see it.
So, can we grab hold of His strength, knowing He will ultimately bring His glory into our pain.
Can we pray, “God, take this suffering away. But if You have a greater purpose, a greater plan to use this suffering, I want You’re will.
--Give me the strength to endure.
--Keep my eyes focused on You!”
To get there, we need to pray for His strength and protection.
In distress and anguish, we pray…
3. For strength and PROTECTION from temptation.
Then He returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with Me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”
Matthew 26:40–41 (NLT)
The spirit is willing, but the body (or the flesh) is weak.
That means we must pray together for God’s strength in trials.
First, so we can endure the suffering, but also so we don’t fall into temptation.
Now from here, the text goes back and forth between Christ’s praying and the disciples.
So, let’s just read the rest of this scene so we can get the full flavor of what’s happening.
Verse 41 again:
“Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!” Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, Your will be done.” When He returned to them again, He found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open. So He went to pray a third time, saying the same things again. 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. Up, let’s be going. Look, My betrayer is here!”
Matthew 26:41–46 (NLT)
Peter, James, and John don’t come off looking very good here, do they?
Are they just weak?
Do they not care?
Some people read it as if the disciples are saying, “Well, Jesus prays all the time and we’re so tired.”
But I don’t think that’s what’s going on here because of a detail Luke gives us.
Matthew says, “They could not keep their eyes open.”
And Luke tells us why:
[Jesus] returned to the disciples, only to find them asleep, exhausted from grief.
Luke 22:45b (NLT)
They were exhausted because they were grief-stricken.
One translation of the word here for grief is “bitter sorrow.”
They had entered into Christ’s grief with Him. And don’t forget, they had just come from the Last Supper where Jesus told them He would be killed and was leaving them.
These men were broken, and scared, and filled with grief.
The difference is:
Jesus leaned into His anguish WITH God.
The disciples only settled into their grief, and it overtook them.
Grief is real. Suffering is real.
And if we try to navigate that anguish on our own, it can do immense damage to us.
--That’s why we bring other, trusted people along with us.
--That’s why we have to lean into God’s goodness when we can’t see any goodness in this world.
--And that’s why Jesus is pleading with His friends to pray for God’s strength and protection from temptation.
What temptations do you think Jesus is warning them about?
It’s the temptation that’s coming to deny Christ and run from their faith.
And by the end of this night, that’s exactly what they’ll do.
When Christ returns the third time from praying, He says, “You might as well sleep.”
Why? Because there’s no time left.
The opportunity to pray with Jesus for strength in what’s coming was gone.
“Get up” Jesus says, “My betrayer is already here.”
And in a few moments, Jesus will be arrested, and His followers will be scattered in fear and uncertainty.
What might have happened if they leaned into the Father with Christ instead of surrendering to the exhaustion of their suffering?
When we face our darkest moments, we will be brought to our knees in surrender.
But you can choose whether you surrender yourself to the grief or surrender the grief to God.
The disciples surrendered to their suffering and collapsed under its weight.
But Jesus surrendered His grief to the Father and received strength for the trial.
Luke adds this detail:
“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.
Luke 22:42–43 (NLT)
Jesus goes from being completely crushed by anguish, to getting up and walking straight into the suffering with peace.
By embracing God’s purpose in the suffering.
In distress and anguish, we pray,
4. Embracing God’s PURPOSE in victory!
Jesus received strength to endure the suffering, but He also marched forward in the Father’s victory.
The first time Jesus prays, He says, “Let this cup of suffering be taken away from Me.”
But after the angel strengthens Him, and He goes back to pray a second time, the wording is slightly different.
“My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away [cannot pass] unless I drink it, Your will be done.”
Matthew 26:42 (NLT)
Anyone know what the cup of suffering represents in the Old Testament?
--The cup represents the wrath of God against sin.
So, Jesus says, “If Your wrath against sin cannot be satisfied unless I take it, then I want Your plan to be done.”
In other words,
--If there’s no other way to save these people,
--If there’s no other way to undo the curse of sin,
--If there’s no other way for them to be with Me in eternity,
--If Our holy wrath has to fall on someone, let it be Me. Your will be done.
And what’s the Father’s answer?
No. There’s no other way.
--You need to take the sin on Your shoulders.
--You need to be separated from God.
--You need to suffer if You want the wrath to pass over them.
“But I will give You the strength to endure it. And then, when it’s finished, You will be glorified with Me.”
And when we embrace His purpose and His victory in our suffering, He makes us the same promise.
In His kindness God called you to share in His eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation.
1 Peter 5:10 (NLT)
Look at our theme verse at the top of your outline.
… What we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later.
Romans 8:18 (NLT)
God’s victory is always greater than our suffering.
That’s why we take Communion so seriously.
The Lord’s Supper represents the suffering Christ took in our place so we could walk through in His victory.
Shortly before Jesus prayed in the garden, before His arrest, Jesus shared the Last Supper with His disciples.
Go back up to verse 26 of this chapter.
As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then He broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is My body.” And He took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is My blood, which confirms the [new] covenant between God and His people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many.”
Matthew 26:26–28 (NLT)
1 Corinthians adds Jesus also said this:
“Do this to remember Me as often as you drink it.” For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until He comes again.
1 Corinthians 11:25b-26 (NLT)
Do you see the significance of the communion cup when we look at Christ’s prayer in the garden?
In the Passover feast, there are four cups. The third one, which is the one Christ is offering as a symbol of His sacrifice and blood, was called the Cup of Redemption.
The Cup of Redemption.
Don’t miss this!
We only get to drink from Christ’s cup of redemption because He took our cup of wrath.
So, when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, it’s a time to evaluate hearts and reflect on the anguish He took in our place—the cup of God’s wrath He drank so we could have the cup of Redemption.
We want to reflect on that together today.
So, if you didn’t get elements when you came in, just raise your hand and a volunteer will bring you some.
If you’re watching in our online campus, use what you have available.
>>This is a practice specifically for believers, so if you don’t feel ready to participate, there’s no pressure.
Communion is meant to be an intimate moment between you, and God, and the people you’re sharing His victory with.
When the early church shared in the Lord’s Supper, they did it in their homes. They didn’t have a pastor leading them.
And you know how they did it?
We have no idea.
There are no instructions, except to evaluate our hearts and reflect on Christ’s sacrifice.
So, just as they did it together in homes, we’re going to do it together in our prayer circles.
And you can’t do it wrong.
So, when I say go, get in groups with 5 or 6 people around you, just as we’ve done the last few weeks.
Make sure no one is left out.
And we’ll pray together for these prayer prompts:
PRAISE GOD FOR…
- His sacrifice to bring us eternal life and His glory in Christ’s resurrection.
PRAY GOD WILL…
- Teach us to examine our hearts and live in His victory.
- Make us, as a church, an ambassador of His victory in our suffering.
- Bless our time of communion together.
Then, in whatever way the Spirit leads your group, share the elements together.
Then, I’ll come back and close us out.
If your group hasn’t shared in the elements yet, go ahead and do that now.
Thank you for praying together.
As we wrap up this series.
I’ll ask you one more time.
Do we want to see revival?
Then the end of this series must be the beginning of a prayer revival.
--Pray and Fast together for Brookwood in your families and Community Groups.
--Join our prayer teams.
--Come down front or to our Care Connection room if you need prayer today.
--And I’ll meet you in the Amphitheater tomorrow morning for our Prayer Walk.
Be there by 7am.
God has incredible things planned for Brookwood Church.
We just have to keep moving forward together, continually and in one voice.
So we close this series with Paul’s words:
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.
Ephesians 6:18 (NLT)
And let’s not stop until we see revival.