Summary: Prayer is not just about getting; it’s also about giving. Prayer that pleases God is prayer that yields to His will.
There once was a man who had fallen on hard times. He desperately needed guidance. So he decided he would open his Bible, close his eyes, and put his finger on a verse, hoping the verse would reveal God’s will for him. He opened his eyes and looked at the verse he had pointed to. It was Matthew 27:5: “Judas went and hanged himself.” He thought he should try again. He turned a few pages and pointed to another verse, Luke 10:37: “Go, and do thou likewise.” He didn’t like that one either, so he turned some more pages and point to a third verse. It was John 13:27: “Whatever thou doest, do quickly.”
JESUS is the greatest example of someone who yielded Himself to God’s will (Mark 14:32-42).
Only a few hours separate Jesus from the cross. His last supper with His disciples is over. Judas has left to betray Him. Soon His enemies will surround Him, and the agony will begin.
Jesus and His disciples walk to a garden called Gethsemane. Jesus announces, “Sit here while I pray.” He takes His three closest friends, Peter, James and John, along with Him. Thoughts of what lies ahead fill His mind. He begins to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” Jesus says to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”
Going about a stone’s throw beyond them, he falls to the ground and prays. “My Father,” He says, “if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” His sweat falls to the ground like drops of blood. This is the hour of Jesus’ greatest temptation.
Jesus returns to His disciples and finds them asleep. Disappointed, He goes away a second time and prays, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may Your will be done.”
The disciples are still sleeping. Once more Jesus prays. But no voice comes from heaven, only dreadful silence. Jesus fights against the temptation to do as He wills and through prayer submits to the Father’s will. He will not slip away in the dark. He will not resist the mob that will soon arrive to arrest Him. He will obey the Father’s will. He will face the cross.
“I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38).
“Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36).
“This, then, is how you should pray: ‘…your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’” (Matthew 6:10).
The Big Idea
Prayer is not just about GETTING; it’s also about GIVING. Prayer that pleases God is prayer that YIELDS to His will.
Yield = (1) to slow down or stop in order to let another vehicle pass; (2) to give something up to somebody else. God wants every believer to give up control of his or her life to God.
Why does this kind of prayer please God?
1. God wants us to show that we TRUST Him.
The African impala can jump to a height of over 10 feet and cover a distance of greater than 30 feet. Yet these magnificent creatures can be kept in an enclosure in any zoo with a 3-foot-wall. The impala will not jump if it cannot see where its feet will fall (Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, p. 78).
“We live by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).
Sometimes Christians pray, “Dear Lord, show me Your will for my life, and if I like it, I’ll do it.” We must determine in advance to obey God’s will—even before we know what it is.
Hudson Taylor said, “Unless there is an element of risk in our exploits for God, there is no need for faith.”
The Father said, “No,” to Jesus’ request. Jesus prayed to be delivered from death; instead, He was delivered through death and glorified by the resurrection. We have to trust God even when He says, “No.”
2. God wants us to show that we LOVE Him.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will” (Rom. 12:1-1).
“If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15).
But… Won’t yielding to God’s will make me unhappy? Look at Jesus: He yielded to the Father’s will and was crucified!