Your Will Be Done
‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’ (Luke 22:42)
Jesus’ anguish must have been enormous. Indeed, it was so great that ‘his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground’ (Luke 22:44). What caused this wasn’t merely the thought of a martyr’s death, but knowing that he was about to carry the weight of the world’s sin and drink what the prophets had called the cup of God’s wrath (e.g. Jeremiah 25:15-16). This cup symbolized God’s righteous judgment that was being stored up, ready to be poured out on sinners at the End; but here is Jesus preparing himself to take that cup and drink it dry for us. Little wonder, as he reflected on this, that he prayed the words of our opening verse, knowing what the personal cost would be, and yet committing himself to doing his Father’s will.
Sadly, Jesus’ submission of his prayer to the condition ‘if it be your will’ has sometimes become little more than a ‘lazy cop-out’ for many Christians. That is, we can pray for whatever we like; but add the postscript ‘if it be your will Lord’, and then we won’t have to discover what God’s will is before we pray, and nor will we have to worry if our prayers aren’t answered, as we can always put it down to, ‘Ah well, it wasn’t God’s will anyway’.
The far more exciting and faith-building approach to prayer is to take time to seek to discover what God’s will is first – through the Bible, through abiding in Jesus, through prophecy, through waiting upon God, and so on – and then to pray it into being. If we find out what God wants in this way, then we can be confident our prayers will be answered, for our thoughts will be in line with his thoughts, and we won’t have to keep adding ‘if it be your will, Lord’.
So, what about you? Do you use phrases like ‘if it be your will’? And if so, how do you use it? As a ‘cop-out’ from seeking God, or as an ‘opt-in’ to truly wanting his will for your life?
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. (1 John 5:14)
Copyright © 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont
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