The Hardest Prayer
James 4:13-15 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”…You are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
When I was a kid, I went through a phase when I thought it would be pretty cool to have diabetes. I was not very bright but I must have felt I needed some attention. I of course had no idea what I was wishing for. I do not remember that I went so far as to pray for diabetes, but I can give thanks now that my life did not turn out the way I though it should.
This, I think, is how God views my self-centered scheming even now as an adult. James says, You do not know what tomorrow will bring (4:14), yet I follow my own route most of the time, giving no thought to God’s will. I cannot see tomorrow, yet I still go my own way, refusing to follow the one who does. I am still as that child hoping for diabetes, ignorant of what I am actually pursuing. God, please save me from my own stupidity.
So, today, do I follow God’s way or Scott’s way? When I pray, I usually go to God asking for my will to be done. James says however, that the right prayer is to ask for God’s will to be done. This of course, is the hardest prayer, to say God, not my will but yours.
I may be willing to do this in one area of life. Thank you God for freeing me from drug addiction, but I think I would prefer to manage my career, thank you very much… God, I think, smiles, looking at me like that child wishing for diabetes and blind to the future.
James says I am to follow God in every area of life. He wants to invade all of me and I am to ask for his will in all things. This is the hardest prayer, as at times, it seems that God is not to be trusted with everything. I see those around me going through things that I think would shake my ability to say, God your will be done. Sometimes it seems that we need to remind God of what is going on down here. Do you not see the pain you are allowing? Fix this!
James teaching, however, echoes Jesus command to his disciples, If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me (Luke 9:23). When we follow God, we follow the one who cannot only see tomorrow, but who can see eternity. He holds the world in his hands and his is the only will we should be following. My will is as strong as it is short sighted and thus, I need to constantly make the effort to turn from self and keep my gaze on God. This is the hardest prayer but it is always the right one. This is faith.