Feb. 11, 2017

The One Needful Prayer

Prefacing Scriptures for consideration:

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1

“The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; But they who seek the LORD shall not be in want of any good thing.” Psalm 34:10

“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:19

“For thus says the Lord GOD, “‘Behold, I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out.’” Ezekiel 34:11

“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”  John 10:11

“For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.” 1 Peter 2:25

 

“Not my will but Thy will be done.” This was the prayer of our Lord in Gethsemane (Luke 22:42). Lately I have been thinking about the magnificence of that simple prayer, especially as related to statements from Scripture concerning the promises and proclamations of the Lord Jesus - the One we often call the Good Shepherd, the manifestation of our loving Heavenly Father. As we journey through Scripture, which always reveals Jesus, we can say with full assurance that Father really does know best! It was for the joy set before Him that Jesus endured the cross, which was the path to the right hand of God (Hebrews 12:2) Thus in the midst of our trials, we fix our eyes on Him, picking up our cross and following Him.

I’m seeing in a new light the blessedness of full surrender of the mind, heart, life, and especially the will to the Lord. When I pray, “Thy will not mine be done,” I exchange my existence - lack, separation, and always trying to work my way out of that by my own efforts - for His Way. That’s the “High Way” of being led by the Holy Spirit - a life of infinite blessing as He directs me in a life of restoration and oneness with my Creator. “A highway will be there, a roadway, And it will be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean will not travel on it, But it will be for him who walks that way, And fools will not wander on it.” (Isaiah 35:8) 

In order to arrange for this exchange, the Good Shepherd laid down His life - both His human manifestation as well as His glory as God the Son - offering Himself as the ransom for all of humankind, and seeking out everyone given to Him by the Father - in order that we may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:11 and  John 17:2,3). This event - His death on the cross - made the way whereby all of us may be restored to the full knowledge of God, not mere intellectual knowledge, but to deep abiding with our Father which was lost when mankind fell by way of the sin of the first Adam.

(For awhile at this point, take some time to reflect on what Paul was revealing in Ephesians 1:13-23 and 3:14-21.)

So, what do I perceive as I grow in the grace of the knowledge of Him? How safe is it to let go of self and surrender the entirety of my being and life to His care? 

I can safely say with the Apostle Paul that I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ Who lives in me.  Yet, here am “I” - more intact and whole, because in faith I go - in Him - through the metamorphosis of the cross. In Him I have been raised up on the other side of the tomb. I stand on the truth that by faith, having been raised up with Christ, I keep on seeking the things above where Christ is at the right hand of God. I set my mind on that which is above, where my life is hidden with Christ in God! All that pertained to the former life is dead. I am found new in Him. (See Colossians 3:1-17).

Paul admonishes believers (Rom 12:1,2) to present our bodies as living, holy sacrifices, not being conformed to this age (an age of spiritual darkness and many false lights), but to be transformed by the renewal of our mind. The finite mind surrenders to the infinite mind of Christ! Through complete surrender we “prove what the will of God is, that which is good, well-pleasing, and perfect”. 

In ever fuller surrender to Him, in other words (always by Grace in the work of the Holy Spirit), I’m ever increasingly confident in praying “Thy will not my will be done.” More and more my awareness increases that He has / is / ever will be restoring me to the Fulness from which I was long separated (salvation!). Of His fulness I have received. (John 1:16) All good, grace, and glory are in Him, and through the Holy Spirit’s work, I am in Him! Since I dwell in Him, and He in me, how much of a stretch is it to continually and confidently surrender myself and let go of all my personal, earth bound agendas, by the one needful prayer - “Thy will not my will be done?”

The more I surrender my imperfect will(fulness) to His perfect will for me, the more of His steadfast love, blessing, and understanding I receive. The more I understand that - since greater is He that is in me than He that is in the world (1 John 4:4) - the powers of darkness and of the world hold no spell and no sway over me! They must yield to His authority! Yet, “He must increase, but I must decrease,” we confess with John the Forerunner of our Savior and Lord Jesus the Christ (John 3:30).

Ever increasingly we can confidently come to the throne of Grace with that little prayer, “Thy will not my will be done.” He never fails to prove to us - appearances to the contrary in this world complicit with darkness - that “the Lord is a sun and shield; the LORD gives grace and glory; no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11) - those who walk with integrity, wholeness, in that fulness of which we all have received, grace upon grace (John 1:16)! 

To as many as receive Him, He gives the right to become the sons of God (John 1:12). Does it get any better than that? This may be the understanding we need to retrieve, perceive, believe, and receive in such a time as this.

All glory to His name, now and forever!