Yes, I Want That, But…

One Sunday in early August, I presented a message discussing the phrase, “Let go and let God,” with a focus on how we typically take those words to mean that if we turn our troubles over to God, He will take care of things. The hard part, at least for me, is that I try to pass the baton to Him and it falls to the ground with a big clunk. Knowing that I tend to fail in this way, I also shared from an article whose author suggested a new way to understand the idea of letting go and letting God: “Let go (of the outcome you desire), and let God (bring about His will).”
I wonder how this approach might improve my prayer life. I’ve come to realize that it’s okay for me to be honest with God about what I want, but that I also need to leave the outcome of my prayers to Him, even (or especially) if that outcome is different from what I would prefer. I guess it boils down to this: Do I want my life to align with God’s will more than I want to fulfill my own desires? Isn’t that the essence of faith when the rubber meets the road? Don’t I need to trust that God’s ways are better than mine?
Never was this type of genuine, albeit difficult faith lived out so successfully as when Jesus was about to be arrested, mocked, beaten, and nailed to a cross to die an unthinkable, excruciating death. At that moment, He prayed to God, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). He essentially asked God if there was any other way to pay the penalty for people’s sins, if there was somehow a different path that would keep Him from facing what He was about to suffer. Jesus was honest with God about what He wanted; it was not His desire or preference to experience infinite pain and suffering, at least not on a human level. However, Jesus decided to leave the outcome of His prayers to God. He chose to put God’s will ahead of His own, no matter what. None of us will ever go through anything close to what Jesus endured, yet He still said He wanted to do it God’s way, not His own.
One definition of prayer is the alignment of our souls with God. This means that in prayer, our desires can become more like God’s desires, and we can align our wills with the will of God. It also means that prayer is not about making the things we selfishly want happen; it’s about making us want what God wants. Then our spiritual lives become really exciting as our desires are more and more in line with God’s. When Jesus aligned His will with God’s, He went through something absolutely horrific, and He saved the world.
Troy Burns