This morning, I found myself – once again – praying for God to make a specific thing happen. Catching myself, I apologized for being selfish. And started over again. This time, I reminded God what I really wanted, but then turned it back over to Him: “but You truly know what is best Lord, and I pray that Your will be done in this. And if the answer isn’t what I want or expect, then give me the grace to accept that it is for my good.”
So many times we pray out of our desperation, begging God to answer a prayer a certain way. But have you ever prayed for something, yet sensed that you just might be praying for something that is not God’s Will? Have you ever had a check in your spirit that makes you unsure if God would really choose to answer this prayer your way?
I’ve prayed for certain outcomes in some rather big deals in my life: jobs, relationships, and purchases. I’ve prayed for the Holy Spirit to move on certain people for a specific response. Sometimes those prayers were answered directly. Sometimes they were answered indirectly – not in the way or timeframe that I would have liked, but with the eventual outcome that I hoped for. But a good many times, they weren’t answered at all – that I could tell.
As I grow a little more each day in the Lord, I am chagrined to look back at most of those requests. How could I have asked for such things? Selfish desires, immature demands, short-sighted appeals! Good thing He didn’t answer them, or I’d be in a real mess right now! Or rather, I just assumed He didn’t answer. The reality: His intentional silence on the matter is my answer. He always answers my prayers – but not always with the response I was waiting for.
When a friend recently requested prayer for a dying loved one, she initially asked that God would heal and restore. As the patient continued a down-hill spiral, she started questioning whether to continue to pray for healing. She was torn because she loved her sister and wanted her to be healed, but increasingly felt burdened that God just might be telling her no. She finally started praying only for God’s perfect Will.
When you really think about it, praying for God’s perfect Will is like being let off the hook for what to pray for.
Jesus gave us an “out” when praying in the Garden of Gethsemene. Not just once, but twice He prayed “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine.” “My Father, If this cup cannot be taken away until I drink it, your will be done.” Matthew 26:39, 42 NLT
Jesus expressed the desires of His flesh. His humanity did not want to experience the intense suffering required of this sacrifice. But He ultimately drew on the strength of the Father and the Holy Spirit to submit to the perfect Will of God, no matter what the outcome.
I guess I’m in pretty good company here. I feel closer to my Savior somehow, by knowing His flesh wanted to find a way out, too. He really has experienced everything, been tempted in every possible way that we can be. I have been unintentionally imitating Jesus’ prayer. I’ve begun rephrasing my prayers so that I let God know what I would really like, but also let Him know that I will trust that His is the perfect answer. And I know that being in the center of His perfect Will for my life is the safest possible place I can be.