ARPraying According to God's WillAs a Christian, we often want God to listen to our prayers. Find out what constitutes an effective prayer.As a Christian, we often want God to listen to our prayers. The author shows us how to pray effectively. He points out some mistakes that the disciples made when they prayed to God. Through Jesus' corrections to their prayers, we can learn to ask of God according to His will.
this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything
according to His will, He hears us. (1 Jn 5:14)
Christians, we have the privilege of praying to God, and we all want our
prayers to be effective and heard by Him. Jesus promised us that
"everyone who asks receives" (Mt 7:8). In order for our prayers
to be effective, however, we need to learn to ask God according to His
will, not our own. When the twelve disciples followed Jesus during His
ministry, they asked Him for many things, but not all their requests were
granted. Jesus corrected their direction of prayer and showed them how to
pray according to God's
God's Will in Our Relationship with Him
said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for
us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet
you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so
how can you say, "Show us the Father’?" (Jn 14:8-9)
been with Jesus for several years, but he still did not understand who
Jesus was and the purpose of following Him. Jesus said that He is the way,
the truth, and the life. He told the disciples plainly that they had seen
the Father, because Jesus Himself is the exact manifestation of the True
God in heaven. Hearing this, Philip earnestly asked for something that
most of us would also ask for; that is, he asked Jesus to show him the
Father. Philip longed to see something that was tangible. Maybe he
expected Jesus to manifest the glorious image of the Father, just as the
prophets saw Him in the Old Testament.
faith, like Philip's, is dependent on things that are visible. Our faith
is strong when we witness a miracle, see glorious light during prayer, or
experience a loving member taking care of us. When we see all these
positive things, our faith seems to improve greatly. Therefore, we always
ask for things that are visible in order to strengthen our faith. We
always want to see something new, hear a new teaching, or experience some
other exciting thing to stimulate our faith.
Jesus did not
encourage this attitude of prayer, however, because if our faith is
dependent on visible things, we will one day be disappointed. Rather,
Jesus pointed out the truth that He is in the Father, and the Father is in
Him. The disciples could only understand this profound truth by elevating
their focus from visible things to the level of faith and spiritual
eyesight, so they could understand that "it pleased the Father that
in Him all the fullness should dwell" (Col 1:19).
prayers today often focused on asking Jesus to show us something that we
can see? We may ask God to change the environment so we can experience His
abidance and existence. But as our faith continues to grow, it is His will
that we ask for the fullness of the Holy Spirit and inner peace that
transcends all understanding, so we can have the strength to move forward
by the power of understanding the truth.
I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may
abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot
receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for
He dwells with you and will be in you. (Jn 14:16)
God's Will in Our Relations with Others
it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He
steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before
His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to
prepare for Him. But they did not receive Him... And when His disciples
James and John saw this, they said, "Lord, do You want us to command
fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?"
But He turned and rebuked them, and said, "You do not know what
manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy
men's lives but to save them." (Lk 9:51-56)
Human emotions and the
external environment often influence our prayer. We tend to pray earnestly
for those who love us; however, we may also pray that God will discipline
those who mistreat us. After James and John saw that the Samaritans did
not receive Jesus, they prayed according to their own will, asking for
Jesus’ permission in their impulsive and fleshly prayer. They were very
frustrated by the Samaritans’ rejection and wanted to prove their
authority by requesting the fire of heaven to consume them.
We often commit similar
mistakes. When we are mistreated, rejected, misunderstood, or attacked, we
tend to pray to God to show His righteous judgment and vindicate us. We
may ask God to teach someone a lesson so the person will know his or her
mistake. We may be impatient with someone and start to ask God to use
heavenly fire to change, refine, and reshape that person's character.
These kinds of prayers are
common, but they are not according to God’s will. What did Jesus say
about these kinds of prayer? He rebuked the disciples and told them to
review the manner of their spirit—without even mentioning the
inhospitable Samaritans! Jesus’ compassion allowed Him to focus on the
needy people in the other villages and to look beyond the fault of the
Samaritans. His response shows us the best example of the inner peace and
strength that leads to the ability to forgive.
"Do not fret because of
evildoers, Nor be envious of the wicked" (Prov 24:19). When we ask
for revenge and judgment from God (like asking for fire from heaven), our
hearts are often filled with anxiety and frustration. Of course, we can
ask God to show His vindication and righteous judgment, but it is His will
that we ask for the ability to forgive and forget. "And whenever you
stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your
Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses" (Mk 11:25).
It is time to stop pointing
fingers at the faults of others. It simply does not help our spirituality.
Instead, it is time for us to check the "manner of our spirit."
Is it full of hatred, revenge, frustration, and anger? Or is it filled
with love, patience, kindness, and forgiveness?
God's Will in Our Service to Him
the mother of Zebedee's sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and
asking something from Him… She said to Him, "Grant that these two
sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in
Your kingdom." But Jesus answered and said, "You do not know
what you ask… to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to
give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father." (Mt
tend to desire higher status in an organization, because to worldly people
that signifies achievement and success. Therefore, the mother of James and
John came to ask Jesus for her sons' career advancement in the future,
hoping that the right and left position beside Jesus in His kingdom would
secure their positions and ensure their superiority over the other
disciples. Authority and status, however, are not spiritual pursuits.
Jesus corrected her by saying "You do not know what you ask."
we know what we ask? When we ask God to give us more gifts is the reason
so we can better do His work, or is it because we want to be special and
feel superior to others? Do we know that the true meaning of advancing in
the heavenly kingdom is to go "downward"; that is, to humble
oneself to serve others, and to learn from Jesus’ example of humility?
Yet it shall
not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let
him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be
your slave-just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve,
and to give His life a ransom for many. (Mt 20:26)
In the past,
we may have asked Jesus for special gifts or opportunities to do His work,
when actually it was to gratify our own desire for glory. But it is God’s
will that we humble ourselves to do His work. To faithful servants of the
Lord, the status, title, and job content of holy work are not important at
all. The only thing in their minds is to complete their duty so God's will
can be accomplished.
Jesus said to
His disciples, "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are
few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His
harvest" (Mt 9:37-38). This is truly the prayer of a man of God. Who
does which task and who receives which reward is not important for the
worker of God; the only important thing is that the harvest is reaped. So
let's not ask God to let us do things according to our own will; instead,
let's learn from Paul and say, "What shall I do, Lord?" (Acts
"Now He who
searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes
intercession for the saints according to the will of God" (Rom 8:27).
The way we pray will affect our spirituality. May we all learn from the
mistakes of the disciples and learn to ask according to God's will. If we
submit to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, he will intercede for us
according to God's will. This kind of prayer will give us inner peace so
our relationship with God and with other people will be renewed, and the
strength of our ministry will be refreshed.