Sometimes, we are called upon to pray hard things. Yes, there’s the old saying about “be careful when you pray for patience, because you’ll get a chance to practice”. Beyond that, though, there are times when we need to ask God to change us (which is not always comfortable), to embolden us (to do things that we’d otherwise be afraid of), or to lead us through (rather than around) a challenging situation.
We also need to make sure that we are seeking the best solution, and one of the best ways to do that is to always accede to God’s will. Like Jesus included at the example of a model prayer in (Matthew 6:10), and prayed Himself in Luke 22:41-42 (below), we can ask for what seems best to us and still defer to God’s will, in case our wishes and thoughts are not aligned with His.
And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”
Luke 22:41-42 NASB
We may have something specific that we want to happen, or something that we think is the right thing in a given situation. Still, our understanding is inferior to God’s, no matter how intelligent we may be.
However, while praying one morning, I realized that sometimes when I would pray, “Your will be done”, I was falling into a trap: My faith was weak, and I was trying to give God an “out”, so that He would not be found lacking if He did not answer my prayer (the way I wanted). I was using that phrase to cover up the fact that I wasn’t sure whether or not God would answer my prayer – even one that I had prayed fairly boldly and desperately. If God chose not to answer in the way that I had asked (which, of course, is different from not giving an answer), I was admitting – or just masking – my own lack of trust that God could do big things.
Intellectually, I understand God’s promises about how He works through the faith of His people. For instance:
And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you.
Luke 17:6 NASB
And, I admit, sometimes my prayer of “Your will be done” is because of a lack of willingness on my part, I think. For instance, “Please give me an opportunity to speak to a colleague at work about Jesus today. May Your will be done.”, might actually mean, “I know that I should share the good news about Jesus with others, but I’m concerned about what sort of reaction I would get if the other person doesn’t see it the same way.” (Jesus had something to say about that; see Luke 9:26.)
I guess that I’m sometimes like the “people of little faith” that Jesus was addressing in verses like these:
- Matthew 6:30 – Those who worry
- Matthew 8:26 – Disciples in a storm
- Matthew 14:31 – Peter, walking on the water
- Matthew 16:8 – Disciples misinterpreting Jesus’ warnings
- Matthew 17:20 – Disciples asking about a miracle of Jesus
So, whether we aren’t sure of God, or aren’t sure of ourselves, may we each work to build our faith and trust in God. He has proven His reliability countless times, and we can count on Him. Like the prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gesthemane (cited above), may we openly and honestly tell God what we are thinking, feeling, and struggling with; then, let us consider God’s faithfulness and openly turn the outcome over to him. As He continues to show us His wisdom and His work, we can continue to develop increased faith that His will is – and will continue to be – better than what we imagine.
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
Luke 17:5 NASB