“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
I’m a mom who likes to think she knows best for her kids. So, with all my “Mom-Knows-Best” skills, I signed up my middle girl for our church’s private kindergarten the week that registration opened.
For months I prayed the kindergarten class would reach the necessary enrollment. I stressed and worried and spilled over all my freaked out mother concern to anyone with a listening ear about how my daughter’s life would be destroyed at five years old if they cancelled the class.
Slowly, I transformed my prayers. I whispered what started as an uncertain and half-hearted, “Not my will, but yours be done.” Over time, I began to actually mean what I prayed. It was a radical shift for me and not a holy place I often reach in this always-in-control life of mine.
Then I picked up the ringing phone and heard the official news. No kindergarten due to low enrollment.
Off I sped to the local public school and registered my little girl in a building and system that seemed too big and unknown.
Then began the stress over her teacher.
I prayed for that one special teacher who would connect with my daughter and make her first year of elementary school as exciting and engaging as possible and who would expertly work with her strengths and weaknesses.
We walked into the classroom on open house. I wasn’t sure what to think and my child did what I had feared all along—she fell back into herself and shut down in an instant. (Followup note: We ended up loving this teacher. God answered my every prayer for Lauren).
In that moment, I was ready to do anything—unregister her, ask for a move to a different class. Right away, I prepared to step in and assume control from a God who seemed to be messing this all up.
Then I asked myself–-Had I not prayed all along for the best possible teacher and environment for my daughter? Could I trust my God to know what is best for my precious girl? Could I place her in His hands?
I whispered in my daughter’s ear as we sat in that kindergarten classroom, “Lauren, I have prayed for you every day that God would give you the right school and the right teacher. He has brought you here so we will trust it’s going to be perfect and wonderful.”
And I silently prayed, “Not my will, but yours be done.”
We so often model our prayers on The Lord’s Prayer, the “our Father who art in heaven” that Jesus taught to the disciples. And so we should.
That prayer with its “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” echoes Jesus’ own words. We can thus imitate the very prayer of our Savior Himself as He bowed low in Gethsemane, submitting His own desires to the perfect plan of the Father. “Not my will, but yours be done,” He prayed that night.
It’s unlikely that you are struggling with the same issue as me. Maybe your kids are grown and married. Maybe you’re single. Maybe you’re still rocking an infant at night.
Even so, perhaps you and I are in the same place. We, with all our knowledge and expertise, think we have formed a perfect plan and then God intervenes. He declines to give us what we want.
He tells us “no.”
Maybe you, like me, are less likely to react with the submission of Jesus and instead throw temper tantrums like Jonah.
The prophet Jonah had a plan, too. He had a successful prophetic ministry to the Hebrew people. Yes, Jonah had a good thing going and his plans for his life probably included retiring after a fulfilling career as the voice of good news to his own nation.
Then God commissioned him to be an evangelist to a pagan nation that had long been the brutal enemy of the Hebrews.
You likely know the story. He ran away from God, spent three days in a fish’s belly, and then after being vomited up on shore, finally obeyed God.
To a pagan nation, he preached coming judgment and they repented. Even the king donned sackcloth and ashes. It was one of the largest revivals in history—a whole nation turning to God in the course of one day.
Did Jonah rejoice? Did he give praise?
Jonah 4:1 says, “but it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry.”
We could get angry, you and I, when things don’t go our way. We could stomp away from God’s plan and cross our arms in defiance. We could run, fast and hard, jumping onto the first ship out of this place. We could obey, but with an attitude.
Or we could pray, “Not my will, but yours be done,” and trust that our Heavenly Father knows best. We could remember His promise to work “for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Live in my area and want to pray for your kids’ school year? Everyone is invited to are invited to Newington Baptist Church on Tuesday, September 4th at 10:30 a.m. for First Pray–a time of encouragement and prayer for our kids, their teachers, principals, and school staff. Won’t you join us?
For working moms, you can email me your child’s name, grade, school and homeroom teacher and we’ll pray for them, as well: firstname.lastname@example.org
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.