There are two sides of possibility—possible and impossible.

Jesus first prays ‘if it is possible’. Returning to his friends he finds them fast asleep. 

He feels the discouragement of being alone in this and asks them if they could keep watch with him for one hour. It seems that Jesus alone is vigilant enough to realize what is about to happen.

Moving toward acceptance of what will happen to him involves eliminating the options. The sleeping supporters inch him forward into the will of God.

Now he prays two more times saying ‘if it is not possible’.

Matthew 26:
42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”
43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

Having first prayed about possibility, Jesus prays two more times about the impossibility. Still, he has not fully accepted what must come. He still is saying ‘if’. Prayer is the process wherein we bring our ‘ifs’ to God. If it is possible or if it is not, I want to surrender to your plan and purpose.

Jesus did not remain aloof in any way. He finally rested in full acceptance of God’s will.

Matthew 26:
45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

You cannot say ‘Rise, let us go’ until you know that this is supposed to happen. The freedom comes when we reach that point of complete trust and surrender to God.

As they say in the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous, "Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today... I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is suppose to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God's world by mistake." We cannot force ourselves into peaceful acceptance. Coming to acceptance is often a volatile emotional journey occurring over time.[i]