Faithlife Sermons

How to Pray When the Future Looks Bad

A Journey to an Empty Tomb  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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A message from the Bible (Matthew 26:36-46) about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus was facing a future out of his control. His immediate future looked very bad. His prayerful response guides us in how to respond in similar situations such as the current Coronavirus pandemic.

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Transcript

How to Pray When the Future Looks Bad

Sermon Text: Matthew 26:36-46

Introduction

As we enter this text …

A Future Out of His Control

In one sense, Jesus was facing a future out of his control.
Before dawn a crowd of armed men would surround him and drag him off. He would no longer be in control. What happened from here on out was up to his enemies.

A Future That Look Bad

However, in another sense, Jesus faced a certain future which looked very, very bad.
He knew what it was. It involved betrayal, suffering, torture, humiliation, and death (Matthew 20:18-19; Matthew 26:2).

Plan B

In this very private, but brutally honest prayer, Jesus was asking God if there might be options.
Let’s speak honestly about wanting a plan B.

Personal

You get ill, maybe cancer, maybe disability. You hope for a plan B. Later, you plead for a plan B. I get that. I did the same thing when I developed illnesses and disabilities.
Maybe you have a situation where you are going through financial upheaval, job lose, or something else happens. From where you sit your road ahead is certain to be painful, difficult, and burdensome. You’re looking for options. Jesus gets that.

Family, Loved One

Maybe it’s not you but a loved one. They get ill or pass away. They are going through a family heartache. You want things to be different.

Coronavirus

With COVID19 pandemic we live in a world of uncertainty. The future looks difficult. Even if you don’t get sick you worry about others, your job, your finances. Will this cost you your dreams? What do you do in a situation like this?

Sermon Purpose

That’s why I went to today’s Bible passage. Jesus too faced a situation where he didn’t really like his options. But he came out the other side better and stronger. What do you pray when the future looks bad?

This Was An Honest Prayer

What do you pray when the future looks bad? You pray honestly.
Jesus was honest with the people around him and with God.

Honest with the People Around Him

Look what he says to his closest three companions.
“with me” - Jesus invited these three to stay awake “with him.” Jesus wanted, no needed their companionship.
“My soul is …” - What would you say the condition of your soul is today?

Honest with God

“if it is possible …” Don’t be afraid to voice your doubts and fears. God can handle them. He wants to hear them. The most dangerous questions are the ones we’re afraid to say out-loud.

Questions that people asked God in the Bible.

A few uncomfortable questions from Psalms.
1) Why do you hide when I’m in trouble? (Psalm 10:1)
2) Have you forgotten me? (Psalm 13:1)
3) How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul and sorrow in my heart? (Psalm 13:2)
4) Why have you deserted me and ignored my desperate pleas for help? (Psalm 22:1; Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34)
5) How long will you look on and do nothing? (Psalm 35:17)
6) Why do you look the other way and ignore our suffering? (Psalm 44:24)
7) You aren’t giving up on us, are you, God? (Psalm 60:10)
If you want to know the answers to these questions, you’ll have to read them in Psalms.

This Was A Prayer Of Faith

But faith in what? Faith needs and object.
In the days ahead you might hear people say that you need to have faith. But what do they mean by that?

Faith in Nature

Do they mean faith in mother nature or survival of the fittest? That’s not comforting to me because I’m not in the “fittest” category. I think nature is unpredictable. It produced this virus. Athletes contract this virus. I’m not sure mother nature cares.

Faith in Man

Do they mean faith human kindness?

There are people and businesses who are doing some incredible stuff on behalf of others. Our first responders and medical workers should be applauded.
But despite all the good, those empty shelves at stores paint a different picture of human beings. It says humans take without thought for what another person in line might need. Scam websites offer medical supplies and disinfectants, but the orders don’t come, and people’s identities are stolen.
People should not just look after themselves but their neighbors as well, which is what Jesus said.

Do they mean faith in human ingenuity and the resilience of the human spirit?

I do not discount our resourcefulness and intelligence to find solutions. I believe God can lead us there. I believe humanity has an incredible desire to survive and thrive. That’s what brought our country into existence. And God placed that in us to cause us to desire him.
Committed people are working tirelessly for cures and solutions to help us out of this medical and economic nightmare. The problems are huge. What do you do when the situation is bigger than we can handle?

Faith in God

Jesus too was facing a situation bigger than anyone had ever faced before in the history of humanity. Jesus did not engage the situation with faith in human abilities nor nature’s kindness.
Jesus exercised faith in God the Father. It was faith in some specific things about God. Things you can take to the bank, so to speak. An awareness that God’s wisdom is supreme, that God’s goodness is undeniable, and that God’s love is unfailing.

This Was A Prayer Of Surrender

This is obvious from Jesus’ words. “not my will”
How often might we say those words and yet have not truly surrendered to God’s will. We second guess it later with the least bit of trouble or problems.
Marriages begin with a belief it is God’s will, yet problems and difficulties arise and suddenly we want to doubt God’s will and substitute our will.
You decide to give God a chance, then you meet some Christians or a church that treats you wrong and you’re ready to substitute your will for God’s.
You decide to follow God and do what’s right, then people make fun of you and your boss lets you go because you won’t lie on an expense account. You begin to think your will might be a better choice.

This Was A Prayer Of Commitment (Philippians 2:8)

Jesus was not praying “whatever.” Jesus was not shrugging in a fatalistic manner. He wasn’t approaching his future with an “I don’t care” attitude. This was not the prayer of someone who was giving up.
Notice the final verses in this passage. “the hour is at hand” … “the Son of Man”
Does this man sound broken or fearful? Has he stoically given up to forces beyond his control? Has he shrugged his shoulders and said “whatever”? Has he decided life is random and meaningless, so why try?
This was a prayer of a man who wanted to be certain in which direction to march forward. This is a man who understood the meaning of life and his place in the purposes of God.
What good is a prayer of faith and surrender if we don’t follow through?
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