And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. —Luke 22:41-43, NKJV
If you’re anything like me (and something tells me that’s the case since we all have the same Creator), you often find yourself fretting over why you haven’t seen an answer to a particular prayer. Is God not listening? Does He not care?
Jesus is our perfect example in this instance. The One who truly had the Father’s ear and certainly had an urgent petition as He knelt in the garden just prior to His arrest did not insist God answer His request a certain way. In His humanity, Jesus did not look forward to the torture He was about to endure. As a result, He asked God to take it away from Him IF it was the Father’s will. And then He added, “Nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” It was at that point of complete submission to God’s will that an angel came to strengthen Him.
Speaking for myself, I know that’s where the problem usually lies for me. I spend my time begging and pleading and even strong-arming God into answering my prayers according to my will rather than His, and then I wonder why an angel doesn’t appear from heaven to strengthen me. Peace evades me. Joy is but a memory. Can you relate yet?
My favorite cartoon of all time is one of Dennis the Menace, kneeling at his bedside, his hands folded in prayer as he says, “I’m here to turn myself in.” When I’m struggling with yielding my will to God, the memory of such a simple cartoon can call me back to the place of submission. Dennis the Menace didn’t put any stipulations on his prayer; he knew he had done wrong and he was there to “turn himself in” and ask for mercy.
That’s the stance we all need to assume (and maintain) when we come to God in prayer, whatever our petitions may be. The very fact that we call Him “Lord” should remind us that we must remain submitted to His will, for how can we call Him “Lord” if we’re still trying to run things ourselves? Anyone who has ever lived in a feudal situation knows that the “lord” is in charge and the subjects have no say. Thankfully, we who have received Jesus as our Savior have a loving and merciful Lord and don’t need to fear His will for us. Like Dennis the Menace, we simply have to come and present ourselves to Him, trusting that He will do what is best for us, exactly as He did for Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.
I’m ready to turn myself in and get my peace and joy back, aren’t you? Maybe we’ll even be visited by an angel in the process.