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Consecration | SO BE IT

Consecration | SO BE IT

Monday “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”   Luke 22:42

He’d had it out with God. He’d said all He could say, pleaded in agony, and suggested a hundred ways this could go another route. A better route, surely. One that would bypass the cross. But then Jesus did something we often omit from our own prayers. He didn’t stop with begging. In fact, He didn’t stop praying until He got to the place where He let go of His desires and surrendered to His Father’s. God could change what was coming. He could give in to His beloved Son’s request. But even if God didn’t, Jesus was ready to obey. His words echoed His mother’s response 33 years earlier: “Your will be done in me.”

If we’ve walked with God for any length of time, we’ve experienced such a moment. We’ve had it out with God. We’ve said all we could say, pleaded in agony, and suggested a hundred ways this could go another route. One that would bypass the heartache. The loneliness. The pain, betrayal, or financial ruin. But too many times, we end it right there, as if to say, “There are your instructions, Lord, so get to it!” And then He doesn’t and we’re left with hurt, anger, and bitterness. Some shake their fists at God and walk away. So Jesus showed us how to hang onto faith when God says no. Don’t end your prayers with begging. Keep going until you can say, “Not my will but yours be done.” Only then will faith survive when God says no.

Challenge: What are you begging God to change? Are you willing to accept God’s will instead of your own?”

Prayer: Father, teach me to pray like Jesus did, to want your will more than I want my own. Your plans are better, even if I can’t see it yet. I will trust you anyway. I will obey you, whatever the cost as I follow your Son. In His name, amen.

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Tuesday—My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” Matt. 26:42

“This cup.” Isn’t that a strange way to describe the horrific events about to take place? Instead of describing in detail all the agony He would face, Jesus put the whole mess into a cup and offered it to the Father. Why a cup? A cup has limited capacity. It can only hold so much, reminding us that our problems aren’t too big for it. They can fit in a cup. Disaster threatens. Heartaches try to drown us. Disappointments, failures, and suffering dare us to keep going. But what if Jesus used the word “cup” to remind us that if the worst betrayal in history could fit in a cup, our problems can too?  

Sometimes life is just too much. A burden can become so heavy and complicated it feels like octopus tentacles wrapping around every area of our lives. Even praying about it is an overwhelming reminder of how scared we are. So we can do as Jesus did. Put it all into a cup and offer it to the Father. When we’ve already prayed about every detail, when rehashing it again pulls us down instead of lifting us up, we can gather the fragments of I-don’t-know-what-to-do and place it all into a cup. “There it is, Lord,” we whisper. “You know what’s in this cup. So I give it to you and if I must go through it, may your will be done.”

Challenge: What’s in your cup? Who’s holding the handle?

Prayer: Father, I’ve prayed and prayed about __________ until I’m weary of talking about it. So I gather it all into a cup and lift it up to you. You know all the particulars, so I entrust them to you. I can’t do anything else, so I let go. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Wednesday “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me…”   Matthew 26:39

“If it is possible…”  Aren’t ALL things possible with God? Surely Jesus knew that, so what did He mean? Almighty God could make the sun stand still (Josh. 10:13), the Red Sea part (Ex. 14:21-22), and protect Daniel from hungry lions (Dan. 6:22). So what did Jesus mean by “if it is possible?” He and the Father had been in perfect agreement about the plan to redeem sinful humans since the beginning. Nothing could atone for such high treason except the shedding of innocent blood as a substitutionary sacrifice. But what if the Father had granted Jesus’ plea? Was it possible? Yes. But was it possible to grant Jesus’ request and also save us? No. So Jesus let go of what was possible—as we must do—and chose instead the Father’s better plan.

“If it be possible, Lord, could I marry this unbeliever anyway?” “If it be possible, may my tumor-ridden body be healed?” “If it is possible, can you bring my dead child back to life?” We pray desperate prayers like that and sometimes God makes another way to grant our desires while continuing His good plan. But if we want to imitate Jesus, we don’t stop praying until our hearts are one with His. We yearn for possibilities that would spare our suffering, but often in God’s grand scheme, they are not part of the Master Plan. He has good reasons for saying no to our pleas. If He always granted our requests, a greater good might be thwarted. If God had granted Jesus’ request, we would have no Savior. No forgiveness. No hope. So, it wasn’t possible.

Challenge: It’s okay to ask God, “If it’s possible, Lord, could this happen?” But don’t stop until your heart rests in His plan.

Prayer: Father, you know the agonized prayers I’ve prayed over the years. As I look back, I’m thankful you didn’t do it my way. Help me remember that the next time I’m asking if it be possible, please change your plan. I trust yours. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Thursday— So he went to pray a third time, saying the same things again.  Matthew 26:44

“I prayed about it last week so I don’t need to do it again. That’s not showing faith,” said Shawn. Benni frowned. “I don’t know,” she said. “We’re told to pray without ceasing. And Jesus gave that parable about the woman pleading with an unjust judge (Luke 18:1-8).” Shawn shook his head. “No, I don’t want to nag God. It might look like I don’t think He heard me the first time.”

Have you wrestled with that? Should you pray about something only once to show God you know He heard you? Or should you keep praying about it? It’s always a good idea to look at Jesus and see what He did. Matthew tells us that He had to pray three times about the same thing before He could let go of it. Did His prayer change God’s mind? No. It changed His. The purpose of prayer is not to change God’s mind, but to get our desires aligned with His. Until we want God’s will more than our own, we need to keep praying. Prayer is a way of unifying our hearts with God’s. We pour out our fear and dread knowing that He is hearing us and cares about it. But sometimes, that’s not enough. So we go back. Every day. Twenty times a day, if necessary. And God honors that persistence. We don’t like to be nagged, so we assume God doesn’t either. But that’s not what His word reveals. We need to pray until His peace covers the situation and we know we’re on the same side.

Challenge: Are you one-and-done in your prayer life? Follow Jesus’ example. Pray until you want whatever He wants.

Prayer: Father, I’ve been unsure whether to keep nagging you about my issue. But if Jesus did it, I can too. In prayer, He finally left His burden and found the strength to want your will instead of His own. Help me do that too. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Friday Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed…   Matthew 26:39

“Thou knowest that I am righteous in Thy sight and Thou wilt grant me Thine favor,” intoned Brother Bighair in a voice reserved for Sundays. Mrs. Sniffbody arched a brow and opened one eye to make sure nobody else was peeking. Brother Bighair could pray like an apostle and she hoped that new girl with the pitiful prayers was paying attention. Last week, the newcomer been seen on her knees, lifting her hands in worship with tears running down her face. How undignified! Totally shocking! God deserved better than that blubbering. Kneeling was for Catholics and hand-raising for Pentecostals. This church was neither and frankly such displays were embarrassing. Maybe Brother Bighair could teach the poor waif a thing or two about prayer.

Mrs. Sniffbody wouldn’t have approved of Jesus’ prayers either. In fact, religious people haven’t approved of Jesus since His first miracle. So when He demonstrated the proper posture for sincere prayers, we can expect the self-righteous to criticize that too. So what is the proper posture? As humble as you can get. Whether it’s on your knees or on your face, arms lifted or hands folded, God only hears the prayers of the humble (Luke 18:9-14). The posture of the body usually follows the posture of the heart. When Jesus fell on His face, crying out to God, He gave us permission to follow suit. When we’re seeking God with all our hearts, pride and self-consciousness fly out the window. We know we need God and don’t care what Mrs. Sniffbody thinks.

Challenge: Is self-conscious pride keeping you from following the posture of your heart? It may be keeping you from God.

Prayer: Father, I have been too inhibited to follow the posture of my heart. And I think that also limits how much I can humble myself before you. What if I’m keeping my own prayers from your ear? I repent and I commit now to imitate Jesus.  Amen.