Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:35-36, NIV)
I’m so glad that Jesus prayed this prayer. Jesus, who had unlimited power. Jesus, who knew all things. Jesus, God in flesh who put on skin and came to earth simply because he loved us. This same Jesus still asked if “the hour might pass from him.”
And of course, I’m glad (and amazed) that Jesus went on to say, “Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Where would I be if He hadn’t followed through with humble obedience to the Father? He wanted there to be another way, but He still submitted to God’s way.
I’ve prayed for many cups to pass me by. The cup of illness, the cup of heartache, even the cup of discomfort. Some have passed, and some haven’t. These are usually selfish requests on my part, wanting a life free from pain and difficulty. Sometimes, though, I pray for cups to pass from other people, because I honestly don’t want to see them suffer. Either way, I am comforted by the knowledge that “everything is possible” for God, and by the fact that Jesus himself prayed for His terrible hour to pass.
But too often, I stop there. I don’t finish out my prayers as Jesus did: in willing obedience to God’s plan, whatever it might mean. “Not what I will, but what you will” says, “I know that You are God. I know that I can trust You. I know Your ways are best, and I’ll obey.” Difficult words to pray, indeed. And when I can’t utter them, doesn’t that show the condition of my heart? Do I really trust and obey God–do I honestly want to follow Him in everything–if I don’t desire His will above my own?
God, thank You for letting me bring all my requests. I want to be able to pray as Jesus prayed–for Your will in everything. Will You do Your work in me, until I am that willing, that obedient in every aspect? Let my heart’s prayer echo Jesus: “Not what I will, but what You will!” Amen.