A few weeks ago in a message I made a comment regarding prayers that end in “If it be your will”. Apparently there has been quite a bit of discussion about that comment so I thought it might be helpful to clarify. There is no question that we are to pray according to God’s will. In I John 5:14 we read “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we have asked of Him.” And what about the Lord’s Prayer, where Jesus teaches us to pray, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Are we to pray according to God’s will? Absolutely! The difficulty in my mind revolves around the little word “If”. Neither of the passages I just mentioned urges us to pray “If it be your will.” Rather, the assumption is that we know God’s heart and we are praying according to that, boldly asking Him to do just that. To pray “If it be your will” implies that I have no idea what God’s will is, so I’m leaving it up to Him. At one level, that’s certainly true. God is Sovereign and He can do what He wants.
But my sense from the New Testament is that when we pray, we actually are entering into a partnership with God—and that our prayers, in some mysterious way, help cause God’s will to be done. In light of this, we are to pray with boldness and confidence that we are partnering with God in seeing His kingdom come.
(Side note: When Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane “If you are willing, take this cup from Me; yet not my will but yours be done”, He was not interceding for someone else or for God’s kingdom to come. Rather, He was wrestling with what He knew in His heart was God’s will but also knowing that obeying that will would result in tremendous personal pain. This passage is not a providing an example for us in terms of intercessory prayer)
For instance, if I am praying for a marriage relationship to be healed, should I pray—“God heal this marriage, if it be your will”?. Certainly not, because I know it is His will. It is His heart that this marriage be restored. So I can pray boldly in alignment with His heart, without any need to add “If it be your will.”
So why is it with prayers for physical healing, we feel a need to add an “If it be your will” at the end of the prayer? I realize that we don’t know for sure if God will heal this person, but can we not say that healing is ultimately His will? Even if it doesn’t happen in this life, we know that we will not have diseases in heaven. God at times allows sickness for His purposes but I don’t think we should say that somehow sickness is His “will.” Sickness and death occurred as a result of the fall in Genesis 3. In God’s initial creation, these things were not present.
My point in the message two weeks ago was that, if I am sick and earnestly desiring healing, I want to be prayed for by people who are going to pray boldly for God to heal me. People who believe that God’s ultimate heart is to heal. That doesn’t mean He will heal me. This is where we face the mystery of healing and prayer. But regardless of what God chooses to do in that moment, I want people around me praying boldly for my healing—people who aren’t wondering whether or not it is God’s will to do so.
Thus Jesus repeated command to us: Ask, Seek, Knock. Pray prayers that are aligned with God’s will, and then leave the results in God’s hands.
Please comment on this if you have questions or want to push back. I would love the dialog.