By Brian Kinsey
A. Calvary loomed as a great shadow over the heart Jesus as He made His way to Gethsemane with His disciples. As the pressure of the moment began to swell in His spirit, the pain was almost unbearable. It was at this time that He chose three disciples to travel further into the olive grove, hoping they would share in His excruciating trial of decision. Instead, they slept, unaware that their eternal destiny was being determined. Jesus, therefore, continued alone.
B. That’s what Gethsemane was really all about a decision. Two choices were set before Him, two roads stretched out in front. Which would He choose? It was more than just a matter of conveniently choosing what would be the easiest way. This was a matter for eternity; He knew which path was harder. Souls hung in the everlasting balance of purpose. If He made the right choice, millions would be saved. If He made the other choice, He could only save Himself.
C. The mockers at the cross spoke well, but they did not realize what they were saying. They spoke the truth, but from a scorner’s perspective: “He saved others, but himself he could not save.” If he chose to save Himself, then there would be no church, no Pentecost, and all hope for humanity’s redemption would be forever lost. Jesus knew that before He made the eternal choice, He must pray.
D. An observer of one of the great battles of the Civil War said that Gettysburg was one of the most decisive battles of any war ever fought. Of course, there were other battles before the surrender at Appomattox, but Gettysburg was the deciding factor. So was Gethsemane. Jesus chose prayer before He made His choice.
II. Prayer Produces Revival and Unity
A. Prayer and revival have always gone hand in hand. When a person studies the history of revival, he cannot find a single instance where it was not accompanied with outstanding prayer. From the womb of prayer, destiny is born. Right decisions are made. Prayer births unity! It creates and defines what revival can be. Revival is the result of prayer, where souls are saved and lives are changed. God is calling the United Pentecostal Church to prayer, but not just any kind of praying. We must do more than just repeat, Jesus, Jesus” or “O God, O God.” Our vain repetition does not impress God, and it does not scare hell. However, earnest, fervent praying from a righteous saint will move heaven into action and put the devil on the run.
B. Unity is absolutely necessary for a continued demonstration of the Holy Ghost, but Jesus taught us in John 17:11-22 that prayer is the way to get it. According to Ephesians 4:3 we must endeavor to keep this unity once the Holy host gives it to us. What are we doing to maintain the unity? One endeavor must be prayer. Let us look at Jesus’ endeavor in Gethsemane and see if we can learn from it. It reveals that prayer determines our destiny.
III. Reaching the Special Dimension of Prayer
A. Each Gospel records the trek that Jesus took to Gethsemane. It is obvious that Jesus had to pull away from His disciples in order to reach the dimension of prayer that would fix His will and set it on doing the will of the Father.
B. Gethsemane was a battle of the will. It had to be broken before the purpose could be fulfilled.
C. Each Gospel writer had something different to say about the moment Jesus withdrew from His disciples and began His lonely prayer vigil. When we look at the Gospels together they show a spiritual progression that if followed by believers can produce greater spiritual results because they will be more aligned with His purpose.
D. We must remember that prayer in and of self is not powerful. The heathen pray. People of many other religions pray consistently and sacrificially to their gods. But their gods do not answer them.
E. Only answered prayer is powerful. One intercessor made this statement about unanswered prayer: “When God doesn’t answer my prayer, I now that something is wrong with me. I examine myself and change what I must until God either answers my prayer or changes what I am praying for.” What an awesome statement!
F. Prayer is not offered to convince God to move on our behalf. God has always wanted to move. He has always wanted to help us. But He needs our permission. Prayer gives God permission to do what He has always wanted to do. The real sue is that of our will. What do we really want? What really matters to us? What is important? When we pray we are inviting God to enter our lives and align our will with His so that He can work on our behalf.
G. Jesus asked this question to many of the hurting people that came to Him: “What do you want me to do for you?” This is the real crux of prayer. God is only going to answer us if we want the right things, things that agree with El’ His purpose. The question that must be answered by the United Pentecostal Church in this hour is which purpose are we going to pursue? Who are we going to please? This issue must be settled, and it can only be done in true, agonizing prayer.
H. We must come to understand that Calvary meant nothing if it was forced on Jesus. Worship means nothing if it is forced. We cannot force this on anybody. It must be an act of the will that has been changed by a supernatural encounter with God. This is where our destiny will be discovered. We must find out what we really want from God and allow our will to match what God has for us. It must be an act of our will.
IV. Four Progressions of Prayer that Determine our Destiny
A. Satan knows the place where we pray.
1. John 18:12 says, “And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus oftentimes resorted thither with his disciples.” The one who betrayed Him knew exactly where He prayed. We must not ever forget that Satan knows the place where we pray.
2. Even after a voice from heaven declared that Jesus was the Son of God, He was immediately led by the Spirit into the wilderness to fast and afterward be tempted. Satan’s first words were, “If thou be the Son of God.” Hell hears what heaven says about us, and we had better believe hell is going to challenge everything God wants to do.
3. Nevertheless, we can still achieve victory if we are willing to pay the price in prayer. Prayer is not just saying words over and over again with a loud voice. We have done that long enough. We need to settle the issue of our will and find out what we really want from God. That takes focus.
4. God allows Satan to know the place of our praying to challenge us to focus on what we really want. Prayer may be communion with God, but let us not forget that it is also a battlefield.
B. Jesus was withdrawn from the crowd.
1. This is seen in Luke 22:41: “And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed.” Jesus withdrew Himself from the crowd and placed Himself the distance away that a cast stone would reach. We must get ready for criticism. Prayer will do that for us. The word “withdraw” means “to unsheathe the sword.” When we get alone with God, it is like drawing our sword from its scabbard and preparing ourselves for battle.
2. When we start praying for God’s kingdom to come and not our kingdom, we are going to place ourselves where stones can hit us. Too many times we are praying for our kingdom and not His kingdom.
3. Sometimes we have to get alone with God. The measure of one’s anointing is not determined by what he does in the public sanctuary but how he gets alone with God. We need more alone times with the Lord where we discover what we really want from Him.
C. Jesus went forward a little.
1. We can go Mark’s Gospel where the writer described the same moment in Gethsemane: “He went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him” (Mark 14:35).
2. Too many people are praying that we get back to what we used to be. They are wanting yesterday’s blessing when what we need to do is go forward and receive greater than we have ever had before.
3. Moses is the perfect example of this kind of praying, of taking action when we know the direction. God told him, “Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward” (Exodus 14:15). Let us quit whining about our problems and settle the issue once and for all.
4. We must find in prayer what God wants us to do and then do it. That is the only kind of praying that God will ultimately honor. We cannot just simply pray and never take time to receive our marching orders. Once God gives the orders in prayer, it is then up to us to take Him at His word and believe that He means business.
5. Too many times we pray only to feel better on the inside and never wait long enough to receive the specific word from God that we need to fulfill His purpose. We must get beyond our purpose and enter into His purpose.
D. Jesus went a little further.
1. It does seem at times that we have gone as far as we can go. Now we need to go to the final step in the progression. “And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39).
2. Sometimes we just do not go far enough. We stop when we should go on. No forward movement in the Spirit will be productive unless we go beyond the call of duty.
3. Prayer is needed to help us go the extra mile and determine what it is that God has for us today. What kind of revival does the Lord really want for us? Herein lies our true destiny.
A. When we find through prayer what God wants in our lives, we can then break our will and align our self with His purpose. Then God will reveal our destiny.
B. We will at this time receive the true revelation of what John 15:7 means: “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. ” Ask whatever we will and it shall be done? Yes, but
we must first determine what our “will” is.
C. The word “done” is translated from the Greek word “ginomai,” which is a word for creation. God will “generate” or “cause to be.” In essence, the statement means, “If it does not exist, I will create it for you.”
D. Satan may know the place. We may have to pay a price of aloneness with God, but if we through prayer can move forward, and at those special moments of trial go a little further, we can ask what we will and if it does not exist God will create it. What do we really want? It is God’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom.
What a destiny!
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY FORWARD, JANUARY-MARCH, 1998, PAGES 12, 13, 15. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.