We Don’t Always Know the Will of God When We Pray

A nun kneeling and prayingPerhaps the first reaction some of you had to the title of this post is; “O, yes I do! I always know the will of God.” But I have the Bible on my side when I say we don’t always know God’s will when we pray. The Bible says the Holy Spirit helps our infirmities “for we know not what we should pray for as we ought” (Romans 8:26).

Here is the deal. As Christians, we can always know that when we pray, we are praying within the will of God. We can know that because the Word of God teaches us what pleases God and what does not please Him. Because of that we can always know if our requests to God fall within His will. But we don’t always know the specific will of God for a specific situation.

Take Paul the apostle, for example. In his second letter to the church at Corinth, he talks about a thorn in his flesh. He calls it a messenger of Satan to torment him.  Paul said he prayed to the Lord three times for this torment to be taken away (2 Corinthians 12:8).

If we were enduring what Paul the apostle was subject to wouldn’t we pray for deliverance? Of course, we would. And would it not be God’s will for us to pray thusly? Of course, it would. But in this case, God did not respond the way Paul had requested. God chose to go another route. Instead of delivering Paul from the torment, God chose to give him the grace to endure it. “My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness,” the Lord replied (verse 9).

So Paul’s request was consistent with God’s will. But it was not the specific will of God for the situation at hand. The same is true about us at times when we pray.

So what are the practical implications of what I am saying here? It is that since we can  always know the will of God in general but don’t always know His specific will, we need to listen up for God to speak to us. In other words, prayer is not a one-way conversation but dialogue. We make our requests to God. But He reserves the right to respond differently, as He did in the case of Paul the apostle.

God does not simply rubber stamp our requests to Him. We can’t assume that because we make a specific request to Him that He is on board. He gets to have the final word. That’s because, well, He is God.

[Do you seek to know God’s will for the things you pray to Him about?]

Copyright © 2017 by Frank King. All rights reserved.