Christ commands us to pray boldly and pray persistently because God is a good God.
What then is prayer? Is it a passionate and bold plea, or simple resignation to the will of God? Is prayer active or passive? The best way to answer the question is to look at the boldest prayer ever prayed.
And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (Luke 22:41-44, ESV)
There’s never been a bolder prayer. Jesus prayed that God would change the plan. This was the Lamb chosen to activate this plan before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4), this is the Seed that bruised the serpent’s head (Gen. 3:15), the One destined to bear our sorrows (Isa. 53:4), the sacrificial Lamb of God. And when the plan reaches its zenith He says, “I want out. I do not want to execute the plan.” Now this is a bold prayer. This was also a persistent prayer; accompanied with bloody tears He prays this prayer three times (Matt. 26:36-46). A bold, persistent prayer that was against the will of God.
And, it was not sin. This is the dynamic tension. Prayer is asking boldly and persistently for God to move, until at some point it is clear that He has answered our prayer or that His will is different than that for which we are asking. Prayer is asking for God’s goodness to be redirected toward us, until God’s will is otherwise made clear to us.
We are expected to ask God anything. We are expected to ask for it tenaciously. Ask and keep asking until God’s will is clear.
Oh, and by the way, the persistent prayers of Christ are still being prayed for us. Jesus is right now at the right hand of the Father and He is praying for you (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25). God did not answer the prayer of Christ in the way He wanted. God did not save Jesus from the cross; instead He saved us. A perfect prayer was offered. A bold prayer was offered. A persistent prayer was offered. And it was not granted. In the end, the salvation of the church and kingdom reign were all riding on one prayer that seems to us unheard. Imagine God not seeming to respond to Christ’s prayer, so He could respond to ours. He is a very good God. You can come to Him boldly and tenaciously.
I’m so grateful that God did not seem to respond to Christ’s prayer so that He could respond to mine.