1 Samuel 3:18 So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. And he said, “It is the LORD. Let him do what seems good to him.”
Job 1:21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”
Acts 21:14 And since he would not be persuaded, we ceased and said, “Let the will of the Lord be done.”
Matthew 26:39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
What do you observe from the verses above? From Samuel’s acknowledgment of God’s judgment to Job’s confession of God’s blessedness in doing what He wants, and the disciples’ concession to God’s will and the Son’s voluntary obedience to the Father’s will, we see the Scriptures’ testimony that true prayer includes humble submission to God’s will. The passage from Romans tells us that we do not know what to pray. Since this is the case, what should be our attitude in prayer? What should we be seeking in prayer?
This attitude in prayer is largely forgotten or neglected by modern evangelical churches today. They are content with the “name it, claim it” type of prayer, and arrogantly declare and pronounce whatever they want God to do. They assume the position of God. It is a strange thing for them to submit to God in prayer.
On the other hand, there is also a tendency that we are pouring our hearts intensely because at the back of our minds we are pleading that God may do our will. We do not submit to God’s superior wisdom. Yes, our prayer should not be cold and mechanical but intensely pleading with God. However, in pleading and even begging God to answer our prayers, we do so with a submissive heart, willing to accept God’s perfect will over ours.
A pray that is acceptable to God is a prayer that is according to God’s will. More often than not, what we think is God’s will is not His will.
Isaiah 55:8-9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Knowing what is best for us
We heard a story where a man prayer to have a television. Is it God’s will for him to have a television? Probably, yes? So he had one. He was happy as a clam since he thought that it was an answered prayer. However, as time went by he lost time for worship, and watching TV robbed his time for family devotion. Now, we ask, is it really God’s will?
How do you know what is best for you? How do you know that your current affliction is not a blessing from God? Sometimes, we think that God’s blessing and trials in life are mutually exclusive. “God’s glory and our sins seem mutually exclusive. We treasure strength, not weakness; victory, not defeat; happy endings, not tragedies. But is this the message of the Bible? 1
We often pray for afflictions to be removed. But we forget that growth in Christian virtue needs discipline and training. We are to consider it all joy when we encounter afflictions in our life for they produce perseverance.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
Afflictions and trials are our best buddies on earth. We were born with trials. After all, we welcomed the world crying. God sends trials and afflictions that we may kneel before Him in prayer. We are God’s creatures. We have no right to tell God what to do. As His creatures, we must submit to Him. To tell God to do what we want is blatant defiance to His rule and authority.
Imagine a mother praying for her dying child. Her prayer is filled with grumbling spirit and worst, arrogant requests. She prays, “Lord, make my child live. I cannot, and I will not accept it if he dies.” So her child lived but turned to be a criminal and a yoke around her neck. Eventually, he got killed. God may have granted her prayer but it became a lifetime affliction (even a curse!) for her.
Knowing what is best for God (God’s will)
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.
1 John 5:14
There are prayers that God will undoubtedly grant us. Generally, these are spiritual blessings (Gal 5:22-23). We can pray for these things boldly. We can pray to be holy and claim God’s promise that this is the will of God, that is our sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:3). This is our comfort. God hears prayer done according to His will.
There are prayers concerning our present situation and personal pursuit. Praying to pass an exam. Praying to get a dream job. Praying to own a house.
Can you heartily say that what you are praying for is God’s will? If you are not certain, how can you pray for God’s will? It is this: pray for what you are asking fervently like a child trusting his Father, and pray like Christ, “not my will but Your will be done.”
When we humbly pray for relief in times of afflictions, most of the time, God’s response is added grace that we may endure (1 Cor 12:9). Instead of lightening our heavy burdens, He adds grace that we may have peace amid the storm since God gives peace that passes human understanding.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
When you pray this way, you’ll grow in praying according to God’s will. You’ll notice that before you were so intense to pray for trials to be gone, but now you enjoy it and consider it all joy to go through each heavy burden peacefully. God never promised to relieve us of all troubles in life but He will sustain us in carrying our burdens (Psalm 55:22). God will never bend His will to grant your will. God promised that He will grant grace that we may do His will.
To God be the glory!
This blog post is based on our pastor’s message in Bella Vista last 02/09/2022.