Last week, we started our Prayer 101 series by discovering how to pray “not what I want, but what you want”. We began with asking God to reveal his good and perfect will, and for his wisdom. Today we look at three more steps to backing down in prayer.
I am well-acquainted with being at odds with God’s will. It took me a long time to accept God’s intention was for me to live in the States. Silly really, because I had asked him to show me, and he did.
For many years, I prayed to move back to England. You may wonder, if I wanted it so badly, why my husband and I didn’t pack our bags and go home.
Our financial situation restrained us. We could hardly pay the bills to take care of a growing family, let alone fulfill the cost of relocation.
However, there was a significant moment during those painful years of prayers.
At one point, my husband’s job enabled us, with three children under the age of three, to live in London for six months. I thought we would make it permanent. Our plans did not come together.
So we prayed—specifically: “God if you want us to go back to America, we can only do it if we have a green card.” Our visas had expired. My husband’s company was highly unlikely to pay for this immigration status. “We’ll never get them,” I thought, “we are meant to stay home.”
The company replied: Yes.
I had asked. He had answered. Yet, still I struggled.
Along the way I’d forgotten God’s desire was to give me a hope and a future.
We shouldn’t feel ashamed or guilty about our struggle to accept God’s purpose.
Perhaps, like me, you know God’s plan, yet you are grappling to stay in line with God’s desires.
This is temptation, not sin.
Jesus struggled, too. But the Son of God demonstrated our next three ways to back down in prayer.
3. In prayer, tell God you are willing to give up your own desires.
You’d think, because Jesus was God in the flesh, he would have found it easy to follow through.
However, his human-ness was evident when he prayed in the garden before his arrest. Maybe it’s because he didn’t want to be laughed at, to have people spit in his face, to be beaten, to have nails driven through his hands and feet, and to experience a slow painful death.
Jesus didn’t want to go through that for people who hated him. How ludicrous.
Perhaps Jesus was tempted to use his power to overcome his oppressors, just like he had been tempted in the wilderness.
Whatever Jesus wanted, it didn’t correspond with God’s will, that’s why he struggled.
It’s okay to struggle—and ask if there is another way out.
But, not my will, Jesus prayed.
4. Ask God to give you an a-ha moment about your situation.
If God’s plan and your goals don’t line up, ask him to change your desire. Seek his kingdom, then everything will be added to you—everything else will fall into place.
Is it easy? No, Jesus attested to this. God knew this. Why else did he send an angel to strengthen Jesus?
We have to understand and see God’s good intent. Then, like Jesus, you can choose to do God’s will. In the end, Jesus said, “See, the hour is at hand.” He knew it was time for God’s great salvation love story to be put in motion.
5. Ask other people to pray with you and for you.
Jesus asked his friends to pray; they fell asleep. If someone has asked you to pray, don’t be that kind of friend. Be one who prays fervently.
Remember, Jesus is interceding for you and you have the Holy Spirit to help you.
The foundation of prayer is not what I want, but what he wants. Are you able to accept, your will be done?
Just as I eventually came to accept that God’s will was for us to live in America, you have a choice to make. Waste your energy as you continue to struggle. Or back down in prayer and believe in his good and perfect plan for your life. As Corrie Ten Boom said,
The center of his will is the only place of safety. Let us pray that we may always know it.
Is there a place where you are struggling with God’s will? How can I pray for you to find that place of safety?