Lenten Journal: What Does "Answered Prayer" Look Like?

Matthew 26: 36-46“My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.” verse 39

By George Bashian:

If you're like I am, there have been times in your life when you have prayed to God for a specific outcome in a given situation, and the prayed-for outcome was not realized.  We might say in that situation “my prayer was not answered.”  The disappointment of this experience can be compounded by our having heard reliable accounts of others whose specific prayer requests have been answered.

So where is the “power of prayer” that we so often hear mentioned?

In our passage, Jesus prays, three times “if it is possible let this cup pass from me.”   That - simply stated - is his prayer request:   Jesus does not want to be crucified.  That prayer is not answered.  The God whose voice Jesus has heard on at least two other occasions in his earthly life is silent.

But in the very act of praying, something changes in Jesus.  Immediately after hearing the shear silence of God's response, Jesus says”yet not what I want but what you want,” and “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”  It appears that in the very act of praying to God -  of being in communion with God -  Jesus has a change of heart, he is given the strength to face what he must.  He embraces his vulnerability and puts his very life in God's hands.  Maybe when he says “your will be done” he was reminded of the very prayer that he taught his disciples to pray.

So was Jesus' prayer answered?  No and Yes, but the Yes gave him the courage to face his destiny:  “Get up, let us be going.”   My lenten prayer for us is that we allow ourselves to be changed and molded by God through our very act of praying.