A Maundy Thursday reflection:
But the worst day of all was when it hit me that Jesus’ own most fervent prayer was refused: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” I must have read that verse or heard it a hundred times before without seeing or hearing. Maybe I didn’t want to see it. But then one day I saw it. It just knocked me in the head. This, I thought, is what is meant by “thy will be done” in the Lord’s Prayer, which I had prayed time and again without thinking about it. It means that your will and God’s will may not be the same. It means there’s a good possibility that you won’t get what you pray for. It means that in spite of your prayers you are going to suffer. It means you may be crucified.
After Jesus’ terrible prayer at Gethsemane, an angel came to Him and gave Him strength, but did not remove the cup.
Before that time I may have had my doubts about public prayers, but I had listened to them complacently enough, even when they were for the football team. I had prayed my own private prayers complacently enough, asking for things I wanted, even though I knew well already that a lot of things I wanted I was not going to get, no matter how much I prayed for them. (Though I hadn’t got around to thinking about it, I already knew that I had been glad to have some things I had got that I had never thought to want, let alone pray for.) But now I was unsure what it would be proper to pray for, or how to pray for it. After you have said “thy will be done,” what more can be said? And where do you find the strength to pray “thy will be done” after you see what it means?
– Jayber Crow, in Wendell Berry’s Jayber Crow (via Ash Wednesday)