How to Get Whatever You Pray For
Whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. 1 John 3:22
While addicted to my pills, I prayed many times for God to simply take away my hunger. My plan for sobriety was that God would miraculously change my appetite and then my behavior would follow. Whenever I prayed this, I felt Got telling me to confess, go to treatment, and change my life. I wasn’t going to do any of those things. So, I found myself literally praying in opposition to God’s will, trying to convince him to give me what I wanted instead of what he wanted.
Oddly enough, though it didn’t involve sin or drug addiction, Jesus once prayed a somewhat similar prayer. In the garden of Gethsemane, on the night before his crucifixion, Jesus knew what was coming and part of him wanted out. My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me (Matthew 26:39). Jesus knew God’s plan, but he also expressed his own will. Unlike my addiction prayer though, Jesus finished his prayer, expressing his true desire. Nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will. Jesus wanted one thing, and he told God as much, but in the end, he prayed for the father’s will above all. Then, he obeyed that will.
Every morning, I pray for my family, friends, and for those around me in need. I go to God with my plan and my purpose. I know what I think needs to be done. Then, however, I pray for God’s will. I pray that my sick friends would be healed, but I also pray for God to use the sickness for his purpose. I know that we often require suffering to be transformed, so I pray that God would use life’s trials to shape us, executing his will in our lives. I know what I want, but through my addiction, I’ve learned that my judgment is unreliable, so I must pray for God’s will and then do what it takes to be obedient to it.
That is the promise of today’s passage. At first glance, it appears to be a recipe for getting whatever we want in our prayers. Closer inspection though reveals this truth – Our prayers are answered when we live and pray in God’s will. There are times in the Bible where prayer appears to change God’s plan, but according to today’s passage, authentic prayer is achieved when we obey God’s will and pray for God’s will. We will always have our plan, and it’s appropriate to bring this to God. In the end though, we must always make our will bend to his. Not as I will, but as you will.