And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

Matthew 26:39 (ESV)

The Bible records that from as early as the days of Seth in Genesis 4, man “began to call upon the name of the Lord” by an act eventually referred to as prayer. The Bible portrays it to be the one act that connects man to his Creator whereby requests for blessing and/or favor regarding circumstances in life might be made to God. Christians, therefore, claim that prayer is the greatest power given to humanity. Yet, despite all the reverence given to prayer, it remains one of the most overlooked and, in many cases, the most tedious of Christian disciplines. Few churches can “draw a crowd” when prayer is the singular purpose of meeting.

I can’t help but believe that the lack of devotion to prayer is in some way connected to our lack of understanding God’s methods and motives for answering prayer. While prayer is certainly not a complicated process involving deep theological understanding, neither should it be compared to a child telling Santa what she wants for Christmas. The most important aspect of prayer is that it is designed to bring believers into communion with God in a manner that, regardless of how He answers, it deepens our understanding of who He is and who we are as His children.

One of the greatest examples of God’s unique way of communicating in response to prayer is found in the account of Jesus’ prayer on the Mount of Olives on the night before He was crucified. Matthew records in the verse above the first of His three pleas to the Father that the crucifixion would somehow not be necessary. Neither of the three Gospels that record this event reveal ANY answer from the Father. Yet, we know the result was Jesus’ sacrificial death, burial, and victorious resurrection for the sins of all mankind.

Neither His love, compassion, mercy, nor God’s grace is diminished by how He chooses to respond to our most desperate prayer. In that moment, our greatest need is not what we want, but rather to know He is with us. His presence alone is all we need especially when heaven is silent.