From S. Michael Wilcox. . . .

There are three recorded prayers from Gethsemane, or at least three versions of the same prayer. I don’t think we have to choose which of the gospel writers is the most correct, for they are all poignant and beautiful, yet they teach different truths all of which we can relate to. I favor Mark’s version, but all of them tell us something about that moment in the Savior’s life. We too pray in each of these ways in our own lives. Matthew records the prayer thus: “And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup [this cup of trembling] pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39). Do we not often pray in a similar vein? “Father if it be possible . . . ” When we pray this way, the answer we desire is a matter of possibilities. It may not be possible. If it isn’t possible, we will understand, but if it be possible that God can take away this trial or bring a hoped-for blessing, we want God to do so.

Marks prayer is more deep and poignant. The idea of possibility is removed. Mark’s account is thus: Jesus pleaded, “Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but as thou wilt” (Mark 14:36). Abba is a word used especially by a child, It means daddy or papa. Have we not prayed this way also? “Father, thou canst do all things! Give me this blessing. Take away this trial.” The question of possibility is removed in the prayer in Mark. All that is left is a cry from the innermost realms of the soul. Can a loving Father refuse such a prayer from his loving beloved trusting child?

The prayer in Luke doesn’t present it as a matter of possibility at all. It’s a matter of what God wills. “And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down and prayed, Saying, Father if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine be done.” (Luke 22:41-42) This is what we might call, in a certain sense, a hinting prayer or request. We hope that God wants what we want, as a child might come to his parents and say, “If it’s alright with you, this is what I desire.” Regardless of which version you favor, Christ took the cup of trembling because the answer to his prayer, whichever account you prefer, was, “It is not possible. Too much is necessary for my other children that depends on these intensely painful moments.”

—S. Michael Wilcox,  ‘A Year of Powerful Prayer’ (multiple authors) Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2013), p. 307

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