Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”
If you ever wondered whether God understands what it is like to be fearful and could relate to your anxiety then wonder no more. Knowing the painful fate of scourging and crucifixion every part of Jesus' being is stressed with agony as he prays. He speaks to his friends of being sorrowful to death and in another gospel it is reported that he sweat blood. Every part of him wants to run but he stands firm in prayer. In a small way I can relate to this passage.
A month before my first wife Ellen died I found myself racked with pain and anxiety. I had been praying for her healing for years and she was not any better. That day I prayed a prayer similar to the one in this passage. I released Ellen into the hands of the Father and said that whatever He wanted was OK with me. It was one of the toughest prayers that I have ever prayed. Prayers such as these always are because they involve trust.
Praying these kinds of prayers can be so hard when we understand that God's will may involve personal loss and pain. Yet these prayers dig deep into what it means to trust the Lord. In times of great pain and struggle it takes courage to trust the Lord with the outcome and simply ask for his will to be done. Perhaps if the disciples understood the events of the coming hours they would have not slept but supported Jesus with their prayers?
Not my will but yours Lord. Let your kingdom come and your will be done.