During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions [KJV uses "supplications"] with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. (NIV)
Since I am currently on a prayer journey, I take special notice of any reference to it, so this verse in particular stood out to me, especially because it refers to Jesus being the One praying. In my studies, I have already learned that there are many different nuances when it comes to the words used in reference to prayer, so I wanted to see the specific definition that is used here in Hebrews 5:7 (I use the website http://biblehub.com/). I have found that often knowing the Greek word (or Hebrew in the Old Testament) and definition brings much more meaning and understanding to a passage. This case is no exception.
The Greek word used for "prayers" in this passage is deésis (deh'-ay-sis), which means: "supplication, prayer, entreaty." Now that doesn't necessarily bring much clarity in and of itself, but there is a more in-depth explanation given below, which is what really helped me to better understand the significance of the word:
Cognate: 1162 déēsis (deō, "to be in want, lack"; see the cognate 1189 /déomai, "praying for a specific, felt need") – heart-felt petition, arising out of deep personal need (sense of lack, want).
[1162 (déēsis) ultimately roots back to 1211 /dḗ ("really") which likewise implies a felt need that is personal and urgent (R, 1149).] (bold emphasis mine)
Going on to the word "petitions", or rather "supplications" (which is in the KJV, and thus the word used when doing word searches), we see that the Greek word used here is hiketéria (hik-et-ay-ree'-ah). The short definition is supplication, entreaty, which again does not necessarily give a person an "Aha!" moment. However, the WORDS Help-studies portion below again gives more clarity:
2428 hiketēría – properly, an olive branch; (figuratively) earnest supplication for peace (relief, reconciliation), used only in Heb 5:7. (bold emphasis mine)
[An olive branch, held in the hand of a suppliant, showed heartfelt "supplication, entreaty" (Souter). 2428 (hiketēría) in ancient times was frequently used of a suppliant carrying an olive branch as a token for "seeking peace."]
1. an olive-branch; for suppliants approached the one whose aid they would implore holding an olive-branch entwined with white wool and fillets, to signify that they came as suppliants. (bold emphasis mine)
To think that my Savior, Jesus Christ, prayed such a heart-felt petition, arising out of a deep personal need, and essentially held out an olive branch to the One Whose aid He implored, well, that picture stirred my spirit to so much gratitude and admiration! But verse seven does not stop there.
The Greek word used for "cry" is kraugé (krow-gay'), which means: a shout, clamor, outcry.
Cognate: 2906 kraugḗ (from 2896 /krázō, "cry out") – loud crying, done with pathos (great emotion); clamorous screaming (shrieking) that is extremely boisterous, like a wounded person emitting "unearthly" (non-human) types of sounds. (bold emphasis mine)
WOW! Can you picture the Son of God crying out like that?
And finally we read at the end of verse seven that Jesus was heard "because of His reverent submission".
The Greek word here is eulabeia (yoo-lab'-i-ah): reverence, fear of God, piety.
Cognate: 2124 eulábeia (from 2126 /eulabḗs, "reverent, godly fear") – properly, "a taking hold of what God calls good"; "holy caution," inducing circumspect behavior. See 2126 (eulabēs). (bold emphasis mine)
It's amazing to me to think of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, crying out to the Father with reverent submission - taking hold of what the Father calls good, using "holy caution" in His approach and response to the Father!
How often do we toss up our prayers to God expecting, and at times inwardly demanding that He answer them according to our expectations?
In this passage of Scripture we are reminded of Christ's humility and love for the Father. Jesus desired what His Father desired, regardless of the pain that He knew He would experience: the pain of personal rejection, the pain of public humiliation, and the pain of physical torture that led to death! If Jesus humbled Himself to follow God's will, who are we to do anything less?
There are many times when God's will brings us pleasure and prosperity. However, there are times when His will allots trials and discomfort. Why? In my opinion it is to make us stronger, more appreciative, and quite frankly to weed out those who are not sincere in their faith.
So to wrap up this word study on Hebrews 5:7, I want to encourage you to follow Christ's example in regards to prayer. Let's agree to cry out to God with a heart-felt need, recognizing that He is the One who can help us. Let us not be too proud to even at times cry out with great emotion, even to the point of clamorous screaming when the occasion arises. And above all, let us approach the Father with holy caution and take hold of what God calls "good" instead of what we call good.