Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” Matthew 26:38-46 NIV
You are not alone! While I will never fully understand the anguish that Jesus felt that night in the garden. There are times, I too, have wrestled in prayer regarding the will of God for my life. It’s been a task ahead that causes me to fear and brings me to my knees. It’s choosing to obey God even when that means separation from family. It’s singleness longer than anticipated in society, particularly the Christian one, that values marriage and family as the most important goal.
There’s so much comfort in the fact that Jesus himself, not once, but three times asks God to “take this cup” away. Yet more critical are the final words of this prayer, “yet not as I will, but as you will.”
Are we committed to the Father’s will the way that Jesus was? We know that the Father’s will is good, but we long for comfort, even though we also know struggles are the norm. I don’t know where you may be struggling now to fulfill the will of God in your life, but if we’re honest, we will all face times where we need to pray as Jesus did.
Jesus was strengthened as he prayed. The account in Luke 22 is that an angel from heaven appeared to help him, and he continued to pray more earnestly, His sweat falling like drops of blood.
As we also wrestle with God, and maybe at times plead for him to remove the cup of suffering we face, may our cries be like that at our example Jesus. “Yet not my will, but yours be done.”
Jesus then rose from his prayer, woke his best friends, faced his betrayer, abandoned, denied, scorned, spat upon, mocked, brutality beaten, marched to Golgotha and crucified. Jesus drank this cup of suffering out of love for His Father and you and me.
May God strengthen us in His love by His spirit to say, “not as I will, but as you will.”