“Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;” (Hebrews 5:7, KJV 1900)
When you and I pray, often we feel like our prayers are bouncing off the ceiling. Oh, how we desire to be heard by God. This happens in the most stressful of times. There is something that is often missing in our prayers that significantly hinders them from hitting the mark. It is reverence.
This verse indicates that Jesus, during his earthly incarnate ministry, prayed with all human emotion. The context of this prayer to one able to save Him from death, leads us to reflect on Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane where Jesus prayed so intensely that His sweat became like great drops of blood (Luke 22:44). The author of Hebrews indicates that God heard his prayer.
There are a couple things to understand from this verse. First, the Greek word translated “heard,” eisakouo, refers to more than just hearing. It refers to hearing with the intent of heeding. The author indicates that God heard Jesus’ prayer and gave heed to it. It was not to keep Jesus from death, but rather to deliver Him from it. This He did in the resurrection. Moreover, His resurrection proves that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was acceptable to pay the penalty of sin once and for all.
Second, the word the King James translated as “fear,” is somewhat misleading. The word in the Greek, eulabeia, refers to reverence toward God. The verse is not saying that Jesus feared death, but that He had great reverence towards God. Reverence is that deep attitude of honor and respect, which moves us to surrender our will and seek the righteousness and purposes of God. Jesus’ prayers were always about fulfilling the Father’s will.
This is one great lesson for us. Too often we pray without a great degree of reverence. Yes, we can approach the throne of grace with boldness in speech to find mercy and help. However, we need to do so with humility and reverence. We need to seek Him, who is transcendent, yielding ourselves to His infinitely superior plan. When we do, we can rest comfortably knowing that He will hear and heed to our prayers.