Today's verses are Mark 14:39,40: "And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him." Jesus agonized in prayer with the Father about the reality of the cross he was to face in several hours. He knew that at the moment when he took all of our sins upon himself, the moment he drank the cup of God's wrath for us, he would no longer have closeness and intimacy with the Father. The Father, who is perfectly holy, would turn his back on his Son. The thought of that separation caused distress and agony to Jesus' soul. Finally, Jesus prayed, "Yet not what I will, but what you will."
Jesus had taken Peter, James and John with him to watch and pray. When he came back to them, he found them asleep again. At his time of his greatest need, their flesh was weak. They had wanted to stay faithful to him. But when it came to the moment of faithfulness, they were not ready.
Jesus returned to his place of prayer. Today's verses tell us that when he prayed, "he repeated the same words." This is not the vain repetition in prayer that Jesus warned about in Matthew 6:7. That kind of prayer has no heart and is useless. Jesus' repetitive prayer here is his earnest longings from a heart that desires God. What he had said the first time was from his heart of faith and trust in the Father. This second prayer, using the same words, says the same thing.
When he returns a second time to his disciples he finds them asleep again. They awakened groggily and did not know what to say to him.
I take two great truths from this text.
1. In your greatest time of need, it's important to have close friends and family with you. But they may disappoint you, as Peter, James and John did Jesus. People are frail. People are weak. They will most often disappoint you. Though we need them in trials and times of need, they are not upon which we can ultimately depend. Like us, they are weak. Like us, they make lousy gods. The Father alone will never disappoint us.
2. There is great power and Biblical justification for repeating our prayers. If we have a need in our lives that persists, and we've gone to the Father in heaven, expressing the deepest longings of our heart in faith, it's quite acceptable to repeat that prayer over and over again. It' doesn't weary God for us to do it. It's Biblically acceptable. We have Jesus as our model.
The Father in heaven will be present in your deepest hour of need. Pray to him. Give him your burdens. If a prayer has been spoken from your heart and your heart is filled with faith, say it again and again.
God knows and understands. He hears your prayer and will be with you, until the close of the age!