What does it mean to pray in God’s will?
And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw and having fallen on the knees, He was praying, saying, “Father, if You are willing, take away this cup from Me. Yet not My will, but Yours be done.”
I recently had a client ask me how we can know that we are praying God’s will.
What confused her was that she was seeing some Christians simply praying, “Your will be done”, while other Christians were praying for specific outcomes, even to the extent of demanding that the lord acts on their behalf to bring that outcome about.
So, how can we know that we are praying within God’s will? We know that God’s will is that we would be redeemed and reconciled to Him. But my client’s question was more about understanding God’s will in our day to day lives and within our prayers.
Her question brought to mind a devotional I read once that talked of a theological axiom concerning the will of God.
It goes like this: If it’s Monday, and you want to know what God’s will is for Tuesday, just wait until Wednesday.
The writer’s point is that God’s will is active, always ongoing, always being worked out.
God’s will is active
What’s hard for us to accept is that God’s will is sometimes going to involve discomfort or pain. Let’s face it, it’s natural for us to want to avoid things like discomfort and pain. But we also know that it is not possible to live a life free from these things.
I am in no way attacking the name it and claim it, folks, because that’s not my place.
But the problem with using prayer to demand God do something is that we cannot truly know His will on some things until it all plays out and we then see the outcome.
Let me ask it this way: If you made the decision that something was God’s will and therefore prayed for that outcome but then received the opposite- would you conclude that somehow God got His own will wrong? Of course not, right?
This is why we pray by asking Him for what we think is best based on what we know about Him.
Yes, the closer we get to Him, the clearer His will becomes, but more than that: the closer we get to Him, the more we trust Him, even when we do not understand His ways or His will.
Never be afraid to ask
Let’s say you have a sick family member :
Would you ever pray that your family member stays sick and not survive? No way, right!?💔
Well, I hope you wouldn’t.😳 But that’s a whole different topic if you would! As a matter of fact, if you would pray that way: contact me so we can work on forgiveness. 😉
Of course, you’d pray that your family member is healed and lives. It makes complete sense that you would pray that way. Never feel bad for asking such things.
But it may happen that God allows a different outcome than what you hoped and prayed for
If God’s will turns out different from what we desire and pray for- well then, that is our opportunity to trust Him and trust that His will is being done. And we can know and believe that His will is being done because we know and believe that nothing happens outside of God’s will.
What if I can’t accept His will?
If we look deeply, I think we will find that our fear is less about knowing what or how to pray and more about being afraid that we won’t like or accept God’s answer to our prayers (even though we know that His answer is His will)
What I mean is that it’s not so much that we are afraid we might be praying outside of His will but rather we are afraid that His answer might be outside of what we want.
And let’s be really honest: If we struggle to accept God’s will after the fact (meaning after we pray and get a different outcome than we prayed for) what makes us think that we would accept His will any better if we knew it before we prayed?
God is teaching us to trust Him
what matters is making sure we are growing closer to Christ so that we can better understand His will and learn to trust Him more and more for those times where His will doesn’t seem to make sense to us.
His ways are not our ways, they won’t always make sense to us. His will won’t always be comfortable for us, and so we must learn to trust Him more and more.