Messages from Pastor Raddatz

February 28, 2021 Mount Olive Lutheran Church Houston TX, Lent 2 (Adapted from CPH series RETURN)


Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

We continue our Lenten Series “RETURN to the Lord” by focusing on a return to prayer.  Our text is from Matthew 26:36-46.  

Communication and commitment are the keys to a relationship.  When God calls us to pray, he desires a connection with us.  Even though our spirit is willing, but our flesh is weak; He provides the means to do so and even fulfills what we ourselves are unable to do.  God is committed to having a relationship with you. It is my goal to encourage you to be intentional and frequent in prayer, trusting in God’s promise to hear and answer, and to be comforted in the certainty that the Holy Spirit will perfect and complete your prayers.


In Matthew 26:36-46, Jesus just finished the Last Supper with His disciples, and they proceed to Gethsemane to pray. Peter, James and John accompany Jesus, but they are unable to stay awake to pray in his hour of need.  This passage vividly depicts the contrast of Jesus perfect prayer life with the faltering, unfocused prayer lives of His followers.  Our focus is on Jesus who fulfilled the perfect life God asks of us.  God enables us to pray and he also fills the gaps when we fail.

When Jesus begins to pray, he falls on his face (v. 39).  This posture of prayer is in line with the fully human nature of our Lord.  He is facing an extremely difficult and troubled task of the cross.  While he is doing this, he asks Peter, James and John “to watch with me”, in other words he wants the disciples to stay awake while he prays.  They cannot remain alert.  He comes back to them and chastised them, “You could not stay awake with me for one hour”.   This is like a parent who is disappointed with a child.  Jesus reminds them, “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (v. 41).

We can identify with the disciples who show us the truth of our own weaknesses.   Our “Spirit is willing, but our flesh is weak”.  Our prayer life is more like the disciples than like Jesus.  

Our new spiritual nature may be strong, but it is burdened by the flesh, our old sinful self (Romans 8:1-14).  “Without God’s help we would be able to do nothing” -Luther.


                Jesus shows us the ultimate prayer, (v. 42) “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”  This is the prayer of surrender to the heavenly father’s will.  The disciples fall asleep again: in fact, it happened three times, but Jesus continues on to the cross.

                It is God who communicates with us by having his son become like us in all ways yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15).  Jesus is Immanuel, which means “God with us”.  He was fully man and still fully God.  He died for our sins and rose from the dead.   Christ’s prayer and obedience opens the portals of heaven for us!

                There are times we do not even know what to pray for, but God’s “Spirit intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:26).  And what the Spirit does, you can be sure He does perfectly.  

                Your prayers may falter, but the Holy Spirit makes up for it.  What you cannot do, God does for you.  What you are unable to do, God does with ease.  Where you fail, God is perfect.

                While we falter in daily life, Jesus has stepped in and made up for it.  What we could not do, Jesus did for us.  What we were unable to do, Jesus fulfilled.  Where we failed, Jesus was perfect.

                Make the cross the focus of your prayer life.   Let it comfort and soothe you as you speak your heart to God.  He saved you.   He knows your failures do not define you.  He is committed to you.  He will form you until the day you die.  He will intercede for you where you fall short.  When God calls you to pray, he provides the means to do so, and he even fulfills what you are unable to do.

May that be a comfort and encouragement as you joyfully respond to Jesus’ call to “Return to Prayer”.

John Raddatz


Current Weeks Message

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Sunday, January 31, 2021

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Sunday, January 10, 2021

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Sunday, December 27, 2020

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Sunday, May 3, 2020

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020

Good Friday, April 10, 2020

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Sunday, March 22, 2020