Recently, I was in church praying for a young man who was facing some very serious health issues. He was in the hospital for several months undergoing difficult treatment. He and his family were facing so very much, and at that time it appeared that the treatments were not working. I was visibly upset because I wanted him to recover and things were not looking promising. Someone in the church offered to pray with me and they told me to pray for God’s will to be done. My response was that I wanted my will to be done. I wanted him to be healed. Then I thought more about what is God’s will, and is it appropriate to pray and ask the Lord for our intentions.
Struggling with what God’s will is and how His will and my desires align became something that I wanted to better understand. I tried Googling it and the results were all over the board; I ended up even more confused. I asked my spiritual director if it was God’s will that people suffer, and he clearly said no. God does not wish pain and suffering upon us. We have been given the gift of free will and because of sin, we live in a world that is imperfect, where pain and suffering is allowed. That was only part of the answer, I learned what God’s will was not, but still was uncertain as to what God’s will is. I specifically asked Rev. Paul Gateman, a friend and Lutheran pastor who died earlier this year, “What is God’s will?”
Pastor Paul simply and confidently told me that God’s will is for all of us to be with Him in the Kingdom. So when we pray for God’s will, we are ultimately praying for togetherness in God’s Heavenly Kingdom. That answer resonated with me, and Pastor Paul and I talked more about prayer and asking for our intentions. He reminded me of the passage from Mark 10:51-52 where Jesus meets a blind man, “Jesus said to him in reply, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ The blind man replied to him, ‘Master, I want to see.’ Jesus told him, ‘Go your way; your faith has saved you.’ Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.” It was obvious to Jesus and everyone that the man wanted to see, but Jesus asked him what he wanted and to say it aloud. Jesus asks each of us what we want, and He wants us to ask. Pray for intentions and pray that His will be done.
Lastly, I hold that it is necessary for us to cooperate with God. God told us that we are to love Him with our entire heart, mind, and soul. We are to love our neighbor as we ourselves deserve to be loved. I pray that God’s will be done, and I also pray for specific intentions and the strength to cooperate with God. God hears all our prayers, and He answers them, sometimes not in the way that we hope, but ultimately, may God’s will be done.
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