I have been thinking about the prayer offered by the Savior in Gethsemane – specifically the plea “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, nevertheless, not as I will but as Thou wilt.” (Matthew 26:39; see also Mark 14:36 or Luke 22:42)
I have had two realizations as I have pondered this plea. First, “let his cup pass from me.” Before I really thought about this I think I treated it as a line rehearsed for a play. I never really thought of it like that, but I did not recognize the truth behind those words. Christ really did not want to endure the suffering that he was facing. He really did wish that His Father would take the cup away. However, what he really desired was the results which that suffering would bring. The ability and opportunity to act as intercessor for men at the judgment bar, thus enabling mortal men to achieve exaltation.
The second realization (which came in the last few days) was enlightened by the first realization (which I had much earlier). “Not as I will but as Thou wilt.” Even as he sincerely prayed to have the cup removed, Christ knew the will of God. He did not merely have a pretty good idea of what His Father wanted from Him, He knew. Christ poured His whole soul out to His Father even where His will did not match the will of the Father. I have often prayed to do the will of the Father without knowing what His will was. I think it has often been an effort to avoid discovering what my own will was. “I want what You want so just show me where to go” or “I want what You want so, whatever happens I will assume that it was what You wanted.”
I think that the ideal situation is to know and own our individual will and to discover the will of the Father. We should then do the will of the Father whether it agrees with our own will or not. The reason that should inspire us to take that course is that we love our Father and our Savior and that our overarching desire is to return to them. That desire should be greater than any individual wish we may have that conflicts with what They want for – or from – us.