Have you ever prayed for something that you really really want or need and ended that prayer by asking that God’s will be done? Once I was praying for a miracle for a loved one who was dying and my only request was that God heals them so they live. I finished that prayer with “but let your will be done” because I thought it was the Christian and humble thing to do when asking for such requests. In that moment all my hope was that God’s will was also that this person lives otherwise that would defeat my whole prayer! In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed a similar prayer asking that God’s will be done and we all know how that turned out for Him! (we will come back to this point shortly)
In short, I have never liked adding that caveat to any prayer. This week I dug deep into why I do not like to pray “Your will be done” and I realized it is because of two reasons: Many times I do not know what God’s will is and the second reason is a fear that even if I found out what God’s will was, it will be in conflict with what I want or think I need. This week, God taught me a few things to get me unstuck from this mindset. So let’s delve in.
What is God’s will for me in any situation?
That is a difficult question for this very reason: For who can know the LORD’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice? (Romans 11:34 NLT). No one knows the mind and heart of God except God’s Spirit.
For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 1 Corinthians 2:11 NIV
But thank God that through the sacrificial work of Jesus on the cross, we have been redeemed. And through this work of sanctification and justification and now have God’s spirit; the spirit of reconciliation (1 Cor 2:12). It is by this Spirit that we have the mind of Christ. As our minds are being renewed to become more and more like Christ’s, we are able to know the will of God.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12: 2 NLT
In every circumstance we face, God’s will for us is good, pleasing, and perfect. So back to my initial comment about how it ended for Jesus when he prayed that God’s will be done in the Garden of Gethsemane… well we know that He ended up dying a distasteful and painful death. However, we on this side of history, can look back and say that God’s will was good, pleasing, and perfect because that death brought us back into relationship with God (this is why Good Friday is really good!). Take solace in this promise of God:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)
What do I do if what I want/need and God’s will are not in agreement?
This question is easy. Remember that in the Lord’s Prayer Jesus taught us to pray “your kingdom come” before “your will be done”? If we come to the place of understanding that Jesus Christ is king over our lives and over the earth, then the choice becomes easy.
For the king’s word is supreme, and who can say to him, “What are you doing?” Ecclesiastes 8:4 BSB
Frances Havergal captured the response of every Christian who has surrendered to the Lordship and Kingship of Christ in her famous hymn as thus:
Take my will, and make it Thine;
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart; it is Thine own;
It shall be Thy royal throne.
Jesus conquered the world in an epic battle and now the kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ (Revelations 11:15 CEV). He reigns supreme and sovereign over all the heavens and the earth. So as sons and daughters of the King of the heavens and the earth, not only should our prayer be “your will be done” but we can confidently add “…on earth as it is in heaven”