Not my will but Thy will is one of the hardest prayers to pray! But the reality is that prayer is not a backup plan, it is a battle plan! A.J. Gordon once wrote “You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed”.
The most valuable, precious, and costly thing in this world can never be stolen, and that is our relationship with God. Our God paid the ultimate price to reconcile man so that we could once again be in fellowship with Him. God with us, God in us. Regardless of our circumstance, there is nothing in this world that can ever take that from us.
In the process of this purposeful cultivating relationship with God through prayer we may begin to discover a struggle in how we might effectively pray for ourselves and/or others while at the same time not standing in the way of God’s perfect will for our lives or theirs.
Author Elisa Morgan has created a devotional series she calls “The Prayer Coin”, as she shares her journey along the very real struggle of “not my will, but Thine…”
In this series she notes that prayer can be baffling. Sometimes we blurt out our needs and beg God to meet them without regard to where our needs may align with His greater purpose. Other times we genuinely try to surrender to God’s best, but wonder what that might include. Prayer can feel like a coin flip between our desires and God’s.
As I draw near to God in greater intimacy, however, I discover that my desires become one with His, not pull apart from them. This gives me insight that praying His absolute best for me or my loved ones goes far beyond how I ever previously defined “good”, and brings me into a realm of trust that His love and His plan far exceeds anything I could ever imagine. Regardless of how circumstances may appear at the time, I can trust and be confident that Jesus has the final word and is already taking what Satan intended to destroy and is creating beauty out of ashes.
When we think of prayers not being aligned, it may be easy to come up with an example of someone who is praying their next car will be a Lamborghini. But you may recall the story of Peter in Matthew 16:21-23 that I noted in week two, where we find Jesus plainly telling His disciples that He must suffer and be killed, and how Peter took Jesus aside and rebuked Him. Essentially Peter’s response was a prayer. “God forbid it, Lord. This shall never happen to You”. Jesus now infamous answer “Get thee behind me, Satan” is rounded out by the words often left unspoken “for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s”. Can you imagine if God had answered Peter’s prayer not according to HIS plan but according the way Peter intended instead?
On the other hand, what happens when our prayers are aligned and we are in unity, as one? We decrease so that He may increase, and what He wants becomes what we desire as well, where both in the process as well as the end, He is glorified, and we are satisfied.
Think of Elijah praying down fire from heaven or Elisha when he asked for the Lord to open the eyes of his servant so his servant could see the greater army (1 Kings 36-38; 2 Kings 6:16-17). We could likely think of a dozen examples of such, not only from scripture but from faith stories we have heard or personally experienced. The truth is, when we are aligned, scripture tells us that “whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (John 14:13).
The more we dwell in the secret place of prayer and communion, the less possible it is for us to fear, be deceived, be offended at or doubt God.
One benefit of partnership through prayer is that we learn how to allow the Son of God to pray within us, and joining in agreement with His prayer on the behalf of ourselves and others. Prayer in agreement with Him changes US FIRST, so that in turn and also through prayer, we might impact people and circumstances around us, and bring glory to the Father. Satan knows that the more we live in the secret place, the less possible it is for us to fear, be deceived, be offended by, or to doubt God.
It is through prayer, reading the word, having conversation with our Lord, that we learn to continually say YES to His Spirit’s redemptive process that makes us one with Him. Just as marriage on earth – united as one, so also, we will only reach our true identity when we are merged as one with our Lord. It is in that process that we begin to experience God’s best for us.
As we move forward in this process, one thing that will help reshape the way we pray over others is to put ourselves in the place sympathy with God rather than in the place of sympathy with the one we are praying for – meaning, being careful not to sympathize with anything standing in the way of God’s perfect love and plan shaping that person’s life, remembering that what appears to us as good does not always equal what is His best. In partnering with Christ, we allow God’s redemptive work within us as well as within those we are praying for, so that He can create something only He can, in no other way than through intercessory prayer and symbiotic partnership.