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Not My Will But Yours Be Done

March 18, 2021 • Life for Leaders

Scripture – Luke 22:39-42 (NRSV)

Jesus came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him. When he reached the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not come into the time of trial.” Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.”

Focus

As he prayed on the night before his crucifixion, Jesus asked his Heavenly Father to “remove this cup.” If there was any other way forward besides the cross, Jesus wanted it. But he recognized the goodness and authority of his Father in praying, “Yet, not my will but yours be done.” The example of Jesus encourages us to pray freely and boldly, asking God whatever is on our hearts. Yet his example also teaches us to surrender, to submit to God’s will even when we don’t prefer it or understand it. We trust that God’s way is the best and choose that way out of loving obedience.

Today’s devotion is part of the series Following Jesus Today.

Devotion

In the previous devotion we focused on the shocking prayer of Jesus in the Garden, when he asked if the Father might “remove this cup” from him (Luke 22:42). That was a truly honest, bold prayer, especially given Jesus’s understanding that his death was necessary (see Luke 9:22, 17:25, 24:26). But faced with the pending reality not only of immense physical suffering but also of spiritual separation from his Heavenly Father, Jesus asked for the cup of judgment and death to be taken from him.

This daring prayer was framed, however, by Jesus’s clear acceptance of his Father’s wisdom, goodness, and authority. Before asking for the removal of the cup, Jesus said, “Father, if you are willing.” Jesus acknowledged that his Heavenly Father had the final say. Moreover, he recognized that the Father’s wisdom was supreme. If the Father knew that it was necessary for Jesus to drink the cup of suffering and judgment, then that was best.

Jesus’s acknowledgment of the Father’s supreme wisdom and authority was made even clearer in what followed after his request. He prayed, “remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Not my will, but yours be done. Jesus taught his followers to pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). This was, no doubt, a prayer that Jesus and his disciples often prayed. Yet it’s one thing to say “Your will be done” when life is more or less ordinary. It’s another thing altogether to pray “Your will be done” when facing something you dread, something you’d much rather avoid even though it appears to be God’s will.

When Jesus prays, “not my will but yours be done,” he surrendered. He stopped seeking to avoid that to which he was being called. He gave in to the Father’s will in an act of costly sacrifice and obedience. He surrendered his immediate preferences and hopes, choosing to embrace what God wanted for him.

I have never had to surrender to God in such a dramatic and devastating way. God has never asked me to suffer terribly on the way to dying. But there have been many times in my life when I have had to surrender to God, choosing the way I believed he had set for me rather than what I wanted for myself. Looking back, I can see the amazing grace and goodness in God’s guidance. Yet, at the time of surrender, it was difficult to give in, to pray as Jesus did, “Not my will but yours be done.” I expect you have had similar experiences, especially if you’ve been a Christian for a while.

In the season of Lent, I pray daily a prayer of surrender composed centuries ago by St. Ignatius. It’s called the Suscipe, from the first word of the prayer in Latin, which means “Take” or “Receive.” In English, the Suscipe goes like this:

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.

You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.

Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.

May God’s love and grace give you the freedom to pray this with an open heart.

Reflect

When you see Jesus’s surrendering to his Father’s will, how do you respond? What do you think? What do you feel?

Have you ever had an experience of surrendering intentionally to what you believed to be God’s will for you, even though this was not what you preferred at the time?

Is there something to which God is calling you now, something you’re resisting? Is there something you need to surrender to God today?

Act

Let me encourage you to copy the Suscipe prayer in a place where you’ll see it each day (in your phone, computer, Bible, etc.). Let this prayer be a consistent theme of your Lenten communication with the Lord.

Pray

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.

You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.

Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me. Amen.

P.S. from Mark

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One thought on “Not My Will But Yours Be Done

  1. Margie Tomlinson says:

    https://pray-as-you-go.org/ Today I visited another site I like for quiet reflection. It is always exciting when all the week ends on the same note. So when the last question was asked about what do you expect from God going into a new week; the last stanza of your Suscipe Prayer came to mind. A quiet interlude and then the moderator read that very same Prayer. Makes me want to get down on my knees. So a couple days late I printed out the prayer to reflect upon going forward. Thank you

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