And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. 1 John 5:14-15
In my addiction, I asked God many times to instantly remove my destructive appetite. I’ve known some people who’ve experienced this miracle. I did not. When I didn’t get what I asked for, I was tempted to believe that it was God’s will that I remain stuck in my addiction. My bad behavior became his fault. You made me this way. You won’t take this self-destructive appetite away. Perhaps it made me feel a little better to blame God, but it certainly didn’t help my situation at all.
My propensity to blame God wasn’t without some merit though. I’ve heard people preach (erroneously) that if you’re stuck, addicted to some struggle, that’s where God wants you. In fact, there are many who believe that because something happened, it was God’s will that it happened. It’s a tough subject, but I don’t honestly believe that God specifically willed me to lie and steal so that I could abuse drugs, lose my job, and hurt my family – and that I had no responsibility in the matter.
Still though, today’s passage is one with which I’ve struggled. In it, John said that if we pray in God’s will, he hears us and gives us what we ask. Of course this doesn’t mean we get whatever we want. John said we must pray in God’s will, not our will. So, does that mean that we should always pray, Your will be done? Does that mean that whatever happens must be God’s will? Why even pray at all then?
It’s a tough question, but in my addiction, I knew the truth of my prayer. God was trying to use my addiction to teach me faith and obedience. When I prayed for miraculous transformation, God told me to go to treatment, confess, and get help. I remained unwilling though to do any of those things.
On the night before his crucifixion, Jesus prayed to avoid the pain he knew was coming, but then he submitted to God’s will (Luke 22:42). This is a good model for us. When we’re stuck in life, we may go to God telling him what we think we want. Then, however, we must always pray for his will, asking what it is that he wants us to do. Then we must do it. Praying for God’s will doesn’t meant sitting back and doing nothing. Praying for God’s will means following his plan instead of our own.