Christians pray for God's will to be done
Jesus taught, In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:9, 10).
We need to pray this because God's will is not done on earth as it is in heaven. Earth is a hotbed of rebellion. Satan is making his last futile stand against God.
In the Revelation, John writes: And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, 'Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time' (Revelation 12:7- 12).
Jesus came to enforce the will of God and vanquish Satan by first saving those who believe and then, when He comes again, by taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel (2 Thessalonians 1:8).
Christians participate in this battle to overcome evil. When the seventy returned from preaching, Jesus said: I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven (Luke 10:18).
Paul wrote to the saints at Rome: And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly (Romans 16:20).
God wants us to pray: Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). We pray that Christians might stand firm in the will of God: Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God (Colossians 4:12).
When we pray that God's will be done on earth, we must of course begin with ourselves. Like David, we pray, Teach me to do Your will (Psalm 143:10).
Man's will conflicts with the will of God.
This is obviously true of those who outright reject the will of God. But it is also a problem for those who want to do God's will! Paul warns: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish (Galatians 5:16, 17).
Although Jesus foretold His crucifixion, He did not want to die! He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, 'My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.' He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, 'O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will' (Matthew 26:37-39).
It is not wrong to be sorrowful and distressed when we face suffering and death, even though we know it is, or may be, the will of God. Nor is it wrong to pray for deliverance. Yet, we must qualify our prayer, as Jesus did: O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done (Matthew 26:42).
Jesus warned: If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me (Matthew 16:24).
Jesus told Peter: Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish (John 21:18). Peter was willing to die for Christ, but he did not wish to die.
Later Peter wrote: For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit (1 Peter 3:17, 18).
Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God (1 Peter 4:1, 2). Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator (1 Peter 4:19).
Time and chance happen to them all.
The Scriptures do not teach that everything is a direct result of God's will. Many things happen by chance. Solomon wrote: I returned and saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all. For man also does not know his time: Like fish taken in a cruel net, like birds caught in a snare, so the sons of men are snared in an evil time, when it falls suddenly upon them (Ecclesiastes 9:11, 12).
Although God intervenes to ensure that His ultimate purposes prevail, He often allows things to run their course, but with the promise that all things work together for good to those who love God (Romans 8:28). God will take care of his children, no matter what happens to them. Jesus said: And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows (Matthew 10:28-31).
One man whom Jesus healed, showed great insight in this: And it happened when He was in a certain city, that behold, a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus; and he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, 'Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.' Then He put out His hand and touched him, saying, 'I am willing; be cleansed.' Immediately the leprosy left him (Luke 5:12, 13). This man knew Jesus could heal him. Yet he also understood that it might not be according to His will. In this case it was, but in many cases it is not. As Jesus told the Jews: And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian (Luke 4:27).
Paul recounts his own experience: And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness' (2 Corinthians 12:7-9).
How do we pray according to the will of God?
We must have the attitude of Jesus: Not as I will, but as You will (Matthew 26:39).
To the extent that God has revealed His will in Scripture, we can pray with full assurance that we will receive what He has promised: Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us (1 John 5:14).
In everyday matters, however, we often do not know God's will. We pray according to our best insight with the humble realization that we do not know what to ask, but also with confidence in this promise: Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God (Romans 8:26, 27).
What have we learned from the Scriptures about prayer and the will of God?
We are to pray that God's will might be done and that Christians might stand firm in the will of God. Realizing that man's will conflicts with the will of God, we pray that God's will be done rather than our own. It is not wrong to pray for deliverance but we must understand that it can be God's will that we suffer, even if we do not understand why. God is not directly responsible for all that happens. Time and chance happen to them all. Just because God can heal someone, does not mean that it is according to His will. For those who love God, all things work together for good. We can pray with full assurance that we will receive what God has promised in Scripture. In everyday affairs, however, we depend on the Holy Spirit to intercede for us according to the will of God. Let us pray for God's will to be done. Amen.
The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers.
Permission for reference use has been granted.
Published in The Old Paths Archive