"Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will" Mark 14:36
In life, there are times we struggle not knowing if we will ever see a solution. However, God has provided a channel through which we find an answer to life’s challenges – prayer. On the night, before he was betrayed and deserted by his friends, Jesus prayed in this time of distress. And in his prayer we see a model for our own prayers.
He prays like a child addressing a loving father and called out “Abba”. The Aramaic word expressed the idea of love, tenderness and intimacy. Jesus was praying to someone he knew he could put his complete trust in. There will be times when we will experience the challenges of life – illness, office politics, loss, etc. These will be our Gethsemane-like challenges. We will have to bear emotions of loneliness, pain, humiliation, etc. That is the time we will also have to go on our knees and address God as Abba – the cry of a child to a loving Heavenly Father.
Prayer is also a time for us to acknowledge who God is and who we are. Jesus wanted to be spared the agony of crucifixion. He wanted to be spared the agony of separation from his father when he bore the world’s sin. So he asked his father if it was possible for this upcoming misery to go away. Could the Father remove the cup? Yes! Could Jesus refuse the cup? Yes! However, that would mean our being lost forever. So Jesus prayed, “Abba! Father! Everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will." Just because something is possible does not mean it is according to God’s plan. It was God’s plan that Jesus would sacrifice his life in payment for the world’s sin. Jesus knew what was important was not his own earthly desires but his Father’s desire for reconciliation with us. So Jesus used prayer to bend his own will to the Father’s will. That is the way prayer works. In prayer our desires are shaped around what God wants.
If Jesus being God himself could bend his will to follow his father, how about us? Through prayer we realize that we are finite and God is infinite. This should create in us a sense of humility. We know that talking with our Heavenly Father, who also created the universe, anything we ask is possible. But what is possible may not be in God’s Will or beneficial to us. So we ask for what we want and God gives us what he knows we need. Sometimes, we set our expectations very high. Thus, if our prayers are not answered positively to our liking, let us see with eyes of faith, that God loves us and wants the best for us. Therefore we pray and bring our petitions to our Heavenly Father and trust that he will respond in the appropriate way.
What is your cup of suffering today? Perhaps you are asking God to take it away. But he may not because he sees a greater plan for your life than you can see for yourself. That’s when you need to pray an ‘Abba’ prayer of trust just like Jesus did here. God may not remove your cup because he want to see you bring others to Jesus as they see Christ-likeness in your response to challenges of hurt and humiliation. We can choose to disobey our Father. But then we will lose the opportunity to glorify him. Therefore, we should pray to be like obedient sons and daughters who have complete faith and trust in their Abba, “Yet not what I will, but what you will.”