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.”
Matthew 26:39 (NIV)
As I watched my weary friend slowly walk to my car for the ride to the cancer unit where he would receive yet another bout of radiation my heart ached for him. After getting him settled into the car for the ride I said, “Well Bill, is it time to call it quits?”
His response was what I expected. “Gordon,” he said, “I am just going in today to get some prescriptions for pain medications. I have already called the clinic to stop treatment. I have had enough.” I quietly agreed with the wisdom of my friend and assured him I thought he was doing the right thing.
In our text Jesus is clearly asking to be excused from the cross. He uses the expression, “if it is possible”. Those words at least suggest that He knows there cannot be any other way. There is a clear note of submission if no other way is found.
What no commentary on my bookshelves notes is that Jesus assumes the posture of submission, lying on His face before God, as He asks to be excused from the cross. So both by what He says and the position He physically assumes in prayer, there is the clear evidence of submission whatever the outcome.
In life we often pray for a favorable outcome in some difficult situation in our lives. We may pray time and again for a positive result. It may be for a return of good health, or the repentance by a wayward loved one, or again, it might be seeking success in our love life. Whatever the issue you face today, do what Jesus did and say what Jesus said.
Bow your head in reverence to a sovereign God, ask for whatever you wish, and conclude by quoting the words of our Lord, “…if it is possible…” and “Yet not as I will, but as you will.” You cannot do anything better than imitate Jesus in your prayer life. Come to your Father in heaven, Who is the Father of mercies and God of all grace (2 Corinthians 1:3). Make your case before Him and if you come with a submissive spirit you will come to see that what He grants you is the best thing possible.
If Thou shouldest call me to resign, What most I prize—it ne’er was mine
I only yield Thee what was Thine: “Thy will be done!”
If but my fainting heart be blessed, With Thy sweet Spirit for its guest,
My God, to Thee I leave the rest, “Thy will be done!”
Renew my will from day to day; Blend it with Thine and take away
All that now makes it hard to say, “Thy will be done!”
Charlotte Elliott 1834