It’s a choice. My will or Thy will, Lord.
This part of the Lord’s Prayer takes us deep into the life of Jesus himself, since it was his specific prayer in Gethsamane. That is to say, he not only taught this but he also exampled it.
Look at Matthew 26: “Then Jesus went with them eto a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face rand prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let sthis cup pass from me; tnevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
So what did Jesus example?
First, that we have a right to ask our Father about everything. Ask, persist, seek, knock -Jesus encouraged his followers to treat God as a loving father who would not withhold any good thing from his children. “Whatever you ask in my name.…” is a generous remit.
Second, between he has a right to say no.
Sometimes (all times), Daddy knows best,and he will not allow something that will cause you problems later.
We cannot measure the “success” of a prayer just by the fulfilment of its request. Don’t forget: God said “No” to Jesus.
Third, Jesus exampled the struggle of choice between my way and his way. It was not easy for Jesus to accept God’s way. So why should it be any easier for us?
I find it moving that at the point of crisis, Jesus reached for support to his friends. We sometimes think he was beyond such need, but that was not the case. When the going gets tough for us, that’s the time when we need “church” most -and it’s often the time when we pull away,and shut people out. But Jesus didn’t. He reached for God; he reached for his friends; and the angels strengthened him. We are not left to go through these times alone!
And fourth, Jesus exampled the consequence. When you say: “Not my will, but thine be done” then you enter into the prayer-life of Jesus. You have chosen to make Jesus the Lord of your decision. You’ve entrusted yourself to his leadership.
So what about the consequence when things don’t go your way?
Richard Scott writes:
“It is so hard when sincere prayer about something we desire very much is not answered the way we want. It is especially difficult when the Lord answers no to that which is worthy and would give us great joy and happiness. Whether it be overcoming illness or loneliness, recovery of a wayward child, coping with a handicap, or seeking continuing life for a dear one who is slipping away, it seems so reasonable and so consistent with our happiness to have a favorable answer. It is hard to understand why our exercise of deep and sincere faith from an obedient life does not bring the desired result…”
“This life is an experience in profound trust—trust in Jesus Christ… To trust means to obey willingly without knowing the end from the beginning (see Proverbs 3:5–7). To produce fruit, your trust in the Lord must be more powerful and enduring than your confidence in your own personal feelings and experience”
That last statement is profound. We may acknowledge -in an abstract way- that “Daddy knows best” but it is the whole business of life to put that concept to the test. Our own feelings and experience shout so loud and insistently, demanding attention and compliance. We think that we do know what’s best for us, and when push comes to shove, we resent any interference.
Do you remember that moment in Pride and Prejudice when Elizabeth is confronted by an angry Lady Catherine de Burgh, and replies:
“I am only resolved to act in that manner, which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness.”
Ultimately, that’s the bottom line for all of us. The trouble is that we get so blinded by pride (or. indeed, by prejudice) that we cannot see clearly enough to judge. We get suckered by the rush of our own feelings, and “seeking our own happiness” becomes the petulant rant of a spoiled child on the edge of a tantrum.
To trust means to obey willingly, without knowing the end from the beginning.
But there’s one more thing:
“For we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.” (John H Sammis)
The point is that there is favour and joy in compliance. Jesus obeyed his Father’s will,”for the joy that was set before him.” It’s only hard for a moment, and then it’s delightful.
It comes down to quiet trust, doesn’t it?
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your body
And refreshment to your bones.”
We can worry, fret and fume our decisions, but if we trust Him, we will obey Him each and every time. Being obedient does not mean that we will never face difficult decisions. It means that when we do, we will resolve that He has gone before us; and because we have committed our lives to Him, the way we travel will be straight, sure and manageable. The prophet Isaiah reassured us:
“The Lord will continually guide you,
And satisfy your desire in scorched places,
And give strength to your bones;
And you will be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.” (Isaiah 58:11)
Lord, for the joy that is set before me, let your will done!