“I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek to do not my own will but the will of him who sent me.”
Desiring God’s Will
Sit, listen to God, with a kind of expectancy that has no expectations, and ask God, “What would you like to do today?”
-Br. Keith Nelson
From the fifth chapter of the Gospel according to John: “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just because I seek to do, not my own will but the will of him who sent me.”
So when I pray with this passage, I think immediately of some close friendships that I’ve had in my life. Perhaps you can think of your relationship with your partner or spouse or a close friend in your life, and that moment when you have free time together and one of you asks, “What would you like to do this afternoon?” And perhaps you say, “Oh it doesn’t matter to me, what would you like to do?” And there’s that back and forth where you both don’t really care what you do because what you really care about, what you really want, is simply to be with each other, just to spend time being and reveling in, celebrating, exploring the intimacy that exists between the two of you. And the activity really is secondary.
You might think of another relationship or another situation where that question is asked, “What would you like to do today?” And your first impulse, or perhaps even what you say, is “I’m so glad you asked,” and you have a list of things that you would like to do. I think we all know that that’s a different kind of feeling. One involves a kind of attentive listening, a kind of expectancy without any particular expectation about what happens. And the other kind of rushes in with a certain kind of self-will, even if it’s a very subtle self-will – there, in that instinctive moment where we fail to listen, where we fail to give space to the other, with whom we desire intimacy. That kind of instinctive self-will can really be an impediment to developing the kind of spacious intimacy that we desire, both in our human relationships as well as in our relationship, our unfolding relationship with intimacy with God.
So “I can do nothing on my own.” “I seek to do not my own will but the will of him who sent me” requires a listening for what that will is, and a laying aside of our own self-will. So perhaps the way to pray with this might just be to sit, listen to God, with a kind of expectancy that has no expectations, and ask God, “What would you like to do today?”