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.
A Better Answer
Sometimes we pray for things that are not in our best interests. The mother of the disciples John and James asked Jesus if her sons could be allowed to sit at His right hand on the throne next to Him, but Jesus said that she really didn’t know what she was asking for (Matt. 20:22a). He then turned to these two disciples to see if they were able to drink from the same cup that Jesus was going to drink from (Matt. 20:22b), and they answered yes, they can. The point of this encounter is that sometimes we don’t know enough to know what to pray for. God may not give us what we asked for–He may give us something better. Do you believe that? Can you trust God with that?
Jesus’ Prayer Rejected
Can you imagine Jesus’ own prayer being turned down? That’s exactly what happened in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus twice asked to have this cup removed, but He prayed that the Father’s will be done over His own will (Matt. 26:42). What if the Father had given what Jesus had asked for? Would Jesus have avoided the cross? Would we have a way to have our sins forgiven? We will never know, but we do know that Jesus intended to die for our sins. I don’t think there was a chance that Jesus was ever going to avoid the cross and thereby taking on our sins. It must have been tremendous pressure on Him because He had to take upon Himself every vile and evil sin that has ever been committed and will be committed in the future. Remember that Jesus was sinless. It wasn’t as much the scourging and the crucifixion as it was being separated from the Father for a time on the cross and taking upon Himself all of humanity’s sins because sinfulness is the exact opposite of the nature of God, as He is holy.
God Knows Better
Truly, God knows better than we do what we need, and when we pray, He hears our prayers but might decline the specific answer because He has something much better for us. Imagine you are a parent and your child comes up to you and asks you for a plastic toy car, but you already have something reserved that you are going to surprise him or her with. You tell the child, “No, I am not going to give you the little plastic car that you asked for. Instead I’m going to give you something better. It’s a wireless remote control car!” At first the child is disappointed because they didn’t get the plastic car they asked for, but when they see how much better the car is and that it’s remote controlled and a wireless one at that, they’re going to be so much happier with it than what they previously asked for. The child trades in a temporary disappointment for an exceedingly better answer, so if God doesn’t give you exactly what you asked for, it might well be that He has something better for you. That’s where you have to trust an all-wise and all-knowing God, Who knows better than we do what is best for us.
A Closing Prayer
Father, I want You to forgive me for not trusting You enough to understand that You are God and You always do what is not only best for me but what is better than I know enough to ask for, and in Jesus Christ’ holy name I pray.
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