How could Jesus possibly say and pray these things about mere humans like us? It is because of Jesus’ great love and grace! He was about to “…go to the Father” where He would ever live to “make intercession” for us (Heb 7:25; 1John 2:1). “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb 13:8), Who knows our weaknesses and failures, is praying for us and committed to perfecting us (1 Pet 5:10)!
Jesus knows we are frail. He knows that even the most sincere commitment to Him will never result in sinless perfection in this life. Our flesh is weak (Matt 26:41).
Jesus knew that Peter would soon fail (Luke 22:32-34); yet He prayed for Peter that his faith would continue and he would become a strength to his brothers (v.32). That same Jesus is praying right now for your faith and strength – even if you have failed!
Jesus Christ is devoted to us in prayer. He promises to never leave us or forsake us (Matt 28:20). Our occasional failings do not disqualify us from God’s purposes. If we repent and turn from our sin, the same Lord Who requires our obedience is also our Great Deliverer, Redeemer and Intercessor Who forgives us!
We have a Great Advocate before the Father, Who ever lives to make intercession for us (Heb 7:25; 1John 2:1). When we stumble or fail in sin, we can repent and be forgiven, and be restored in Christ’s righteousness to again approach God’s throne with boldness! He will not reject us or close His ears to our cries when we come humbly, with repentance, to His throne of grace. (See Hebrews 4:16; 1John 1:9.) That is the confidence we can have in prayer, even when we have failed in sin. Praise the Lord for His great love and faithfulness!
BE QUICK TO REPENT!
Willful pursuit of sin or rebellion against the Lord frequently results in unanswered prayers or the failure to receive the fullness of God’s blessing. But God, Who searches our hearts, will be faithful to help us “search out and examine our ways” (Lam 3:40) and lay open our hearts before Him in repentance.
Let us be quick to come first to God in repentance and turn away from known sin, lifting our hearts to God. As we confess, He is faithful to forgive us and to cleanse us (Ps 32:5; 1John 1:9). Let us, like David, cry out for both right standing with God and a pure, undefiled relationship with Him (read Psalms 1-19).
Let us be willing to pray, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Ps 139:23,24).
The launching points for a bold and effective prayer life are:
- our obedience to God; and
- our understanding of the great love and forgiveness of Christ, Our Advocate. “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” (1John 3:22).
Another obstacle to effective prayer is unforgiveness or strife.
Jesus taught His disciples, “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him…” (Mark 11:25). Jesus emphasized the importance of love and unity in relationships when He prayed for the Church (John 17:20,21).
Paul also strongly exhorted believers about loving and forgiving one another: “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph 4:32; also read Ephesians 4:1-6 and Colossians 3:12-15).