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.’”
Matthew 26:39 (ESV)
Positioning in sports is everything. When you think about it, almost every sport or type of physical activity requires you to be in the right position.
A wide receiver must be in the right position to catch the ball from the quarterback. A tennis player must be in the right position to return a serve. A boxer must be in the right position to effectively land a clean punch.
Positioning is not only important to succeed in sports; it’s important to succeed in life.
One of Jesus' most challenging moments is recorded in Matthew 26:36-46. He is at a critical point in the will of God and begins to seek the Father’s will through prayer.
In this moment, Jesus teaches us that the primary purpose of prayer is to understand God’s will. This is why it is so important not to go into prayer with our own motives and intentions.
If we are honest, many of us go to God in prayer already knowing the answer we would like to receive. If it was up to us, we would prefer to hear a word that makes us comfortable rather than uncomfortable.
Jesus teaches us that prayer involves both talking and listening to God. It’s a two-way communication channel.
The key to effective prayer is to get in position. Sometimes the very reason why we don’t hear from God is because we are out of position. Here are a few lessons that Jesus teaches us as He positions Himself to hear and understand the Father’s will.
Meet God at your secret place
In Mark 26:36, it says that Jesus came to a place called Gethsemane. This was a place of peace and quiet in which Jesus could dwell in the presence of the Father. This was His “secret place.”
What is your secret place? Is it the field, the court, the track? Is it your closet, your bedroom, or your office space?
Wherever it is, it should be an environment of peace and quiet. It’s a place where you can block out your problems, your trials and your fears, and receive revelation from God.
The first step in positioning yourself in God’s will is to meet God at your secret place.
Build a spiritual support system
Jesus had 12 disciples but He would often spend intimate time with a smaller group. In Mark 26:37, Jesus took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee (James and John) to Gethsemane with Him. These were the same three men whom Jesus brought to the Transfiguration.
In other words, although Jesus had 12 disciples, there was a smaller group whom He gave special access to.
Who are the people you can trust and give access to? Who are the people that have your best interests at heart? Who are the people that will support you spiritually and emotionally?
We all need those “teammates” that we can trust in our time of need. As you walk in God’s will, make sure you surround yourself with the right people. It’s okay to have a number of people you associate with, but there should only be a few people who have special access to your vision, your goals and your aspirations.
Persistently pray until you receive confirmation
Jesus prayed a total of three times in this passage. He was seeking confirmation from the Father. Even if you don’t hear a clear answer the first time you pray, continue to seek the Lord, and He will verify His Word and will to you.
Turn your understanding into obedience
Once Jesus understood God’s will, He followed it up with obedience. This is a difficult step for many people because it takes faith and trust in God. Faith turns our understanding into obedience.
Don’t worry about knowing all the details of God’s divine will. The details will unfold as you make progress. Obedience is a matter of trusting that God’s will is the best path for you.
In order to fulfill God’s will, you must be in the right position.