The book of Matthew records Jesus’ final hours of freedom before His arrest and subsequent crucifixion. He, along with His closest friends, went to an olive grove named Gethsemane. There, Jesus separated Himself a little from Peter, James and John and went off to pray alone.
He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” (Matthew 26:39, emphasis mine)
Knowing that He was facing death–and not just death, but a cruel, torturous death–Jesus begged for a Plan B, a way out of suffering. Astoundingly, though, He also prayed for God’s will to trump His, even if that meant sticking with Plan A.
Twice more that night, Jesus prayed the same prayer–asking for God’s will to be done:
Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.” (Matthew 26:42)
So he went to pray a third time, saying the same things again. (Matthew 26:44)
I’m not sure I would have been so willing to turn over my will to God if I knew what lay ahead. But perhaps what led to praying for God’s will to be done that night in Gethsemane was the fact that Jesus repeatedly reaffirmed throughout His ministry that He was sent to do God’s will:
I can do nothing on my own. I judge as God tells me. Therefore, my judgment is just, because I carry out the will of the one who sent me, not my own will. (John 5:30)
For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. (John 6:38)
So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man on the cross, then you will understand that I am he. I do nothing on my own but say only what the Father taught me. And the one who sent me is with me—he has not deserted me. For I always do what pleases him.” (John 8:28-29)
I think the key to being willing to turn over my will to God’s in prayer is realizing that my purpose is to fulfill God’s will, not to have my life revolve around whatever I want or what I think is best. There have been times when I’ve prayed for God’s will to be done rather than mine, and often those prayers work out in ways that I would never have imagined (and, in some cases, would not have chosen), but I always seem to have more peace when I pray those prayers, even if I don’t get the outcome that I was hoping for.
I want to make praying God’s will a daily habit. Do you regularly pray for God’s will in your life? Have you found it easier to pray or is it still a struggle to let go of your own will?