Written By: Shauna Cowden
Have you ever struggled between praying for the things you want, and praying for God’s will?
We all know the verse that says “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (psalm 37:4). This verse isn’t telling us that if we delight in God he will give us all we want. Rather it speaks of delighting ourselves in the Lord and He will birth new desires in our hearts that line up with His will.
This sounds beautiful, but how do we know when we get there?
How do we know if our heart desires are God-given or just selfish?
And more importantly, how do we pray through this?
In Matthew 26:36-46, before Jesus was arrested and handed over to be crucified, there was Gethsemane. Jesus brought the disciples to this place and before he went away to pray, he turned to Peter and said “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death”. Jesus knew what was coming and he was beginning to feel the weight of what was before him. Jesus knew he had a divine mission to accomplish, he knew the will of the Father, but he was also struggling with his human desire to live.
As he went away, he fell to the ground and began to pray “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet, not as I will, but as you will.” There is so much we can learn from how Jesus prayed in these moment that we can implement in our own prayer lives.
1. JESUS WAS HONEST
Jesus was honest with God about how he was feeling and what he wanted, even if that desire was a selfish desire (“If it is possible, may this cup be taken from me”). Everything Jesus was feeling within him, he placed before the throne of God.
When we pray, we must be honest. We can bring our hurt, pain, and selfishness to Jesus. We must be willing to ask him for help and to do so, we need to get comfortable speaking openly and honestly with Him. We know that God can heal us, provide for us, rescue us, and therefore if we are willing to be honest, we are inviting him in to intervene on our behalf.
2. JESUS WENT BACK TO PRAY THREE TIMES
In Gethsemane, Jesus would leave the disciples to pray alone on three separate occasions. Knowing what was before him, he did not give up on his mission, but rather was splitting time between his followers and being alone with God.
Jesus teaches us that we must get in the habit of continual prayer. There may be prayers that God answers immediately, but then there are things that you need to have a continual conversation with God about.
3. JESUS TRUSTED HIS FATHER
The most beautiful part of Jesus' prayer was "Yet, not as I will, but as you will." Jesus did not just ask God to remove this cup of suffering from him, he restated his trust in his Father at the end of each prayer. Jesus did not discount his own wants and needs, he made sure to honestly voice them, but he ended his prayers with the very foundation of our faith, trusting in the One who has the bigger plan in the palm of his hands.
We can be honest, we can pray continually, but at the end of it all, we must be willing to let God be God. There is a chance that God is not delivering the very thing you are praying for because He has a better plan in mind. Can you imagine if God “took the cup of suffering” from Jesus as he was asking?
We wouldn’t’ have the cross.
What are some circumstances, desires, or dreams you need to be honest with God about in your life?
What are some things you need to be in continual conversation with God about?
What are you praying or hoping in God for?
Do you trust Him regardless of the outcome?
I pray together we are able to get into the posture of honest, continued prayer that says to God “yet, not as I will, but as you will.”