Often as saints we pray: “Lord, not my will, but your will be done”, or “Lord, make me to be like Christ”, or “Lord, use me as your vessel…” and we do so earnestly, but possibly without giving true thought and consideration about what we are truly praying.
“Lord, not my will, but your will be done”
Our “will” reflects our wishes and our greatest desires; it drives us to pursue something or someone and, in many cases, it drives us to persevere against all odds. It may even be said that our will is indicative of our character, or personal identity. Our will is typically the result of our emotions, our life experiences, what we see, or how we feel in the moment. Notice how in this description of our “will”, it is all about us, and less about God.
To the contrary of that, is God’s will. Now when we look at God’s will, we are looking at the things that God desires and what He requires of us, according to His word…His commandments. When we pray for God’s will to be done and not our own, we become driven to pursue holiness, righteousness, peace, and love (II Timothy 2:22); we become driven to pursue “the deep things of God” (I Corinthians 2:10). We become driven to do what He commands of us, which is to love and obey Him….
“And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God by walking in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul” ~ Deuteronomy 10:12.
When Jesus did the will of the Father, it was not welcomed with open arms…
“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” ~ Isaiah 53:2
it did not include great fortunes…
“And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” ~ Luke 9:57-58
and it had absolutely nothing to do with him
“For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” ~ John 6:38
Jesus willingly laid down his life to complete the will of the Father...not because he didn't have a choice, but because he had a willing heart and he was obedient to the Father.
“Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” ~ Matthew 26:53-54
“Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.” ~ John 10:17-18
Now, we may not be asked to literally lay down our lives to complete the will of the Father, but are we willing to lay down our own desires, deny ourselves, our identity, in order that God’s will be done?
“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” ~ Matthew 16:24-25
Everything that Jesus did suggests that it was all about the Father and less about him.
So, if we are not willing to take ourselves out of the equation (less of us and more of God) the question then is, are we truly praying that God’s will be done in our lives, or are we praying that God allows our will, our desires, to become His will in our lives?
“Make me to be more like Christ”
This is one of those prayers that many pray because we sincerely want the courage, power, authority, and faith of Jesus (and we should), but very few of us want the trials and preparation that come with becoming a reflection of Jesus. We may want the ability to cast out demons and heal the sick; we may want the authority to speak things into existence and the boldness to call out people when they are wrong; we may also want the spirit of discernment and the ability to speak a word over someone’s life and cause them to change immediately, and again, we should. All these things are awesome, and we should absolutely seek to be more like Christ and to walk in the fullness of God...
"But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness [...]" ~ Matthew 6:33
"Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." ~ Matthew 5:6
"That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God." ~ Ephesians 3:17-19 (KJV)
but as the saying goes…"how bad do you really want it?”
When we think about it, Jesus was (during his time here on earth, and still is today) medicine for others; he was (and still is) the “Balm in Gilead”. He became flesh, not to benefit himself, he was already in glory with God…
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” ~ John 1:1
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” ~ John 1:14
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” ~ John 8:57
Instead, Jesus came to benefit mankind. Jesus came that we may know the Father through him…
“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” ~ John 14:7
He came that we may have life…
“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” ~ John 10:10
During his journey here on earth, Jesus was despised for our sanctification, for us to be reconciled back to the Father. Nothing Jesus did, was deserving of the hate that was shown towards him, or the death he endured…
“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him” ~ Isaiah 53:5
So, when we pray and ask to become more like Jesus, are we willing to become sheep for the slaughter? Are we willing to become medicine for others so that God may be glorified, and revealed to those who may be lost or have no knowledge of who He is? In the teachings of the late Oswald Chambers, are we willing to become “broken bread and poured-out wine” (put another way, are we willing to become “food” or “nourishment” for others, as they grow closer to God and learn of Him)?
“Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” ~ II Timothy 2:20-21 (ESV)
When we consider a drinking pitcher, before we use it, before we pour any type of drink in it, we clean it thoroughly to prepare it for use. Once cleaned, we fill it with a drink of choice (i.e., sweat tea, lemonade, orange juice, water, milk). Now, when we pour that drink of choice in it, we do not let it just sit; to the contrary, we use the sustenance that has been poured into the vessel, to fill other vessels.
In that same way when we pray and ask God to use us as His vessel, we must be cleansed first, and foremost---we must be properly prepared for use. In this, we must repent and ask Him to cleanse us…
“Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord [...]” ~ Acts 3:19 (ESV)
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
~ I John 1:9 (KJV)
Once cleansed by God, we are ready to be filled with His sustenance (His Holy Spirit, His strength, His love, a heart after His own heart, a mind like unto Christ), that we may do His will and follow His commandments. We must realize, however, that just as we do not fill pitchers with drinks to just let them sit, so it is true with God. He does not fill us, for us to simply sit; instead, He cleanses us and fills us so that we may be used for His glory, for His will. We have work to do.
To help us better understand this logic, we can look at Jesus himself. On earth, he was a vessel for God that became “emptied” to complete the will of God, and not emptied in the sense that he became powerless, or useless because we know through scripture he did not lose his Deity...
"For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross." ~ Colossians 1:19 (KJV)
"For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily" ~ Colossians 2:9 (KJV)
Instead, He was “emptied” in that he poured out everything of God that was in him (the love of God, the will of God, the knowledge of God), into His disciples and in all that were willing to accept Him.
When we pray and ask God to use us as His vessel, are we willing to be prepared (cleansed for His use---that means we must let go of some things [sometimes people], we must let go of sin); do we desire to be filled with His Holy Spirit--- His righteousness? Are we willing to be used by God for His desires, His good pleasure, His will?
Are we willing to become “emptied”? Not to the point where we become powerless (our power comes from the Holy Spirit who lives on the inside of us..."But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you" ~ Act 1:8), or useless, but to the point where we can pour God (or spiritual milk) into another vessel so that they too may grow in the knowledge and the love of Christ…
“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” ~ II Peter 3:18 (KJV)
“Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.” ~ I Peter 2:2-3 (ESV)
and that God may be glorified through our lives.