Woman contemplating

Not My Will But Yours

[Jesus] withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” — Luke 22:41-42

By Elisabeth Elliot

When I was young I had the idea that I would somehow have to annihilate my own will before I could properly pray to God for his. “You must have absolutely no will of your own in the matter,” someone had said. This sounded all right to me, and I spent a lot of time and energy trying to follow this advice. Finally I saw that no such thing was required. The struggle Jesus had in the Garden of Gethsemane showed me this.

A conflict was taking place — not to annihilate his own will but to accept the will of the Father, which was other than his. It did not end with Jesus saying, “My will is now yours” but with, “Not my will, but yours be done.” The act of praying, far from divesting us of human desires, enables us to lay them before God as very real and pressing and say to him, “Not mine, Lord. Yours.” If we had gotten rid of them, there would be nothing to lay down.

There is something terribly down-to-earth about this. They are my own requests I am supposed to “make known” to God. They are things I feel strongly about. They may be sinful. If they are, making them known to God might make plain to me their true nature. But I start by making them known. I pray for what I want, as a child asks its father for whatever it wants. This is faith’s legitimate activity.

Sometimes a father’s answer to his child is no. If God, like a father, denies us what we want now, it is in order to give us some far better thing later on. The will of God, we can rest assured, is invariably a better thing, but our having asked for what we wanted now provides the occasion for us to say, “Nevertheless, not my will but yours be done.”

In Your Own Life

Is there an area of your life where you are struggling to accept the will of your Father in heaven? Think on the difference between annihilating your will and submitting it to God. Proclaim in faith that God’s will is invariably the best thing for your life and the lives of those you love.

Article drawn from a devotional in the NIV Women’s Devotional Bible.

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