Rise and Pray


Of all the recorded stories about Jesus in Scripture, today’s passage stays with me. Perhaps it is because Jesus’ humanness seems so incredibly tangible in these verses—the God-man agonizes, and that is an emotion I can certainly relate to. Or, perhaps it is because this part of the narrative falls a few short hours from Jesus’ torturous death—I know what comes next, so it seems even more unbearable to watch this Gethsemane scene unfold. But, honestly, I think the real reason this passage moves me is because Jesus freely prays to God the Father what I often find so hard to: “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

  • What do you most often ask God for in prayer? Consider your answer as you read the passage below.


39 And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. 40 And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 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 an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. 45 And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, 46 and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. What was customary for Jesus to do (vss. 39, 41)? How often do you follow Jesus’ example of retreating to a more isolated place to talk privately with God?
  2. What did Jesus ask his disciples to do and why (vss. 40, 46b)? What type of temptation do you think he was urging them to pray for protection against (see also Matt. 26:41), especially in the hours just before he was crucified? Were the disciples faithful to Jesus’ command (vs. 45)? Why not?
  3. Describe Jesus’ physical, emotional, and spiritual state during this time of intimate prayer (vss. 41-45). What did Jesus request of God the Father, and what did he concede to him (vs. 42)? What do you learn about Jesus’ level of submission and dependence on the Father?
  4. What kindness did God the Father extend to Jesus as he agonized in prayer (vs. 43)? When have you received strengthening from God as you sought him in prayer?
  5. Is it your custom to draw near to God in prayer? For what do you need to pray as Jesus did—honestly, yet in submission to the Father’s will?


During the last week of Jesus’ earthly life, he retreated nightly to the Mount of Olives, where he would often pray with his disciples (Lk. 21:37, Jn. 18:2). On this night, just before he voluntarily gave himself over to suffer an excruciating death, Jesus “fell on his face” and cried, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you” (Matt. 26:39, Mk. 14:36). In his most agonizing moment, Jesus honestly bared his heart to the Father. But he did so with complete trust in and dependence on God. How many of us can say that in our most agonizing moments we pray for God’s will instead of our own? Or even that, in our ordinary moments, we pray in full submission to God’s will for us?

  • Take some time to speak honestly with God about whatever burdens your heart.
  • Submit yourself in trust and dependence on him.