A preacher has his sermon online about Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane. I think he’s got something here:
Too often we make the mistake of praying surrender prayers without ever owning up to our own will in the matter. Instead of petitioning God to do any specific thing at all, we pray: “Let your will be done.” That is good, but that is not real petition, and sometimes it can be a cop-out for determining how we really should pray. It is not wrong to come to God with a preference. But, following Jesus, after we have clearly stated our preference openly, it is then appropriate to pray, “yet not my will, but yours be done.”
If we never surface and state — and deliberately set aside for the moment — our own preference, we run the risk of “hearing” God say what we want him to say. It is important to sort out what we want and ask for that — it is not wrong — before submitting to God’s will, whatever that might be. Our will may very well be God’s will. But it may not be. To discern God’s will, we must state our own will and then surrender it to God — become neutral about the outcome if God were to desire some other outcome than ours. That is real surrender.