How often do we sit down to pray and simply look for God to listen and to hear, without asking Him to speak and to tell us what He wants to say? How often do our prayers become a laundry list of all the things that we need or want God to do in our lives or in the lives of family and friends? If you’re like me, the answer is probably “far too often!”
When we go to God in prayer, it is important that we speak to Him and present our needs to Him. But it is equally, if not more important, to be still and listen for God’s voice and to seek His will in the requests that we bring to Him. Jesus gave us an example of how we should pray in the prayer that we now call The Lord’s Prayer. A part of that prayer is praying for God to let His will be done (Matthew 6:10).
Jesus modeled that example for us in the Garden of Gethsemane where He prayed on the night before He died for us. Jesus prayed that night that God would take away the cup of suffering that He was about to bear. But, Jesus didn’t make that request and then just leave it at that. He followed it by saying, “Not my will but yours be done.” (Mark 14:36) Jesus understood that God’s will is perfect and He was willing to submit to His will, even if it meant that He would suffer.
When we are presenting our needs before God, we should follow the example set by Jesus. We should present the need, but then tell God that we want His will to be done, even if it means that the answer we desire is not the answer that we get. When we seek God’s will rather than our own, we can be confident that God hears our prayers and that we will receive the answer that is His will for us (1 John 5:14-15).
Jesus prayed for God to take away His cup of suffering, but He also prayed that God’s will be done. It was God’s will that Jesus face that suffering, but God gave Him the strength and the ability to endure it. God’s will for us will never be something that will hurt us. His plans for us are to prosper us and not to harm us, to give us hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). So, we can be sure that, if God’s will in the needs we present to Him does not bring the answer we hoped for, God will give us the ability to accept that will and strength and peace in our circumstances.