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September 19, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“Who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear.”—Hebrews 5:7 (NKJV)
Have you ever wondered what it was like to hear Jesus pray while He was on earth? While the Bible does record several of Christ’s prayers, it can be easy to miss the emotion packed into them. But that’s not the case with today’s verse.
Biblical scholars agree that Hebrews 5:7 refers to the night Jesus spent in the Garden of Gethsemane before his arrest and crucifixion—and the intensity of His prayers is hard to miss. It’s not difficult to picture Jesus praying “with vehement cries and tears” as the cross loomed in His mind. The word “vehement” here means “marked by forceful energy” or “intensely emotional.” In fact, Christ experienced such deep anguish at His imminent death that “he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:44 NIV).
While it’s safe to say none of us have ever prayed with such intensity, it’s healthy to occasionally ask ourselves: When was the last time I truly cried out to God from the core of my being? Unfortunately, those cry-of-the-heart prayers are usually born out of desperate circumstances—the storms of life that drive us to our knees before God.
These heartfelt petitions are the kind we read throughout the Psalms of David, for example, and even in the Book of Jonah, where the mariners in chapter one plead desperately with God for their lives. “Therefore they cried out to the Lord and said, ‘We pray, O Lord, please do not let us perish for this man’s life, and do not charge us with innocent blood; for You, O Lord, have done as it pleased You’” (Jonah 1:14 NKJV).
Can you hear the desperation in their voices? These are men who feared for their lives, willing to do anything to stay alive. That’s the kind of intensity we see Jesus praying with in Gethsemane. Amazingly—in spite of His own fear and desire to avoid suffering (Luke 22:42)—Jesus remains faithful even unto death.
What can give us hope is that no matter what we’re facing, God hears our cries of the heart, and as author John Eldridge notes: “It’s a beautiful expression of prayer, rising from the deep places in us, often unbidden, always welcome to His loving ears.”
DIG: When was the last time you cried out to God from the bottom of your heart?
DISCOVER: Do a study on the prayers of Jesus. What do they reveal to you about His heart and how we ought to pray?
DISPLAY: Regardless of what circumstances you are facing, spend some time this week pouring out your heart to your Heavenly Father, and be listening for His still, small voice in response
Rob Nieminen is a seasoned writer and editor who has written devotionals for Calvary since 2015. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, FL. He serves in the Worship Ministry at Calvary Boynton Beach and is an avid reader, an erratic golfer, and an aspiring photographer who loves to cook and spend time with his family.