If It Be Your Will

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, August 19, 2016 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

[This post is part of a series. The previous post is here, and the next post is here.]

One of the most common tag-lines we add to our prayers, besides “amen,” is “If it be your will…” Do we really understand what we are saying when we say this? I would suggest many of us do not because we have said it so many times. Let us dig into what this really means.

The bulk of us add this to our prayers because we want to appear humble. Not necessarily to others but to ourselves. We would love for God to do this particular thing we are asking for, but in our humility we are willing to go another way. There is truth to this, but at the same time, we actually do not use this phrase in seeking obedience to God’s will, but rather as a cop-out. Countless times, we will pray, “Lord allow this to happen, if it be your will.” Countless times we want that thing to happen, but we actually do not expect it will come through. I wrote about expectations and specific prayers last week and this is a particular nuance to that subject.

When we pray, “Lord, allow this to happen if it be your will,” we tend to actually be praying for Plan A, but we have Plan B in mind. How often do we pray with a contingency plan? How often do we have a back-up plan in case God does not show up? Or more realistically, how often do we know God’s will and we do not want to do it?

There is a difference between those who seek God’s will and want confirmation, and those who knows God’s will and want out of it. Both will say the same prayer, “If it be your will”. Last week, I wrote about Gideon and Abraham’s servant. They knew what God’s will was. Gideon knew he was being called to defeat Midian. Abraham’s servant knew he was to get a bride for Isaac. Both asked God for signs, very specific signs that would not happen in the natural, to confirm it. They wanted to obey but they wanted to be absolutely sure they were making the right choice. So they asked for a sign without a Plan B in mind.

But many times, that is not what we do. We pray rather ho-hum about it, saying “If it be your will” as though we actually do not want to hear it. I remember during an Intervarsity Chapter Camp retreat about 10 years ago, the speaker related an event where he was on the mission field and God told him to go play with the kids there. But he did not want to do it so he had his quiet time, reading the Bible and praying. It is good to read the Bible and pray, however it is not good to do that when God told you to be doing something else. This speaker’s incident relates to what I am addressing. He knew God’s will but he was saying, “If it be your will…” as a cop out. He went to seek God’s will… for the purpose of avoiding God’s will.

How often do we pray for an alternative option other than what God told us to do? Moses did that at the burning bush. Five times, he prayed for an out. Moses finally agreed when he realized he had no out without being outright rebellious against God. But Jesus also prayed for an alternative. Three times in the Garden of Gethsemane, he prayed for any other way to deliver man from sin. But Jesus did not pray, “If it be your will.” He prayed, “Not my will, but your will be done.” Jesus KNEW what God’s will was and he was obedient to it in the full. This prayer revealed Jesus’ humanity, but it also showed he would not doubt God’s will and his plan.

When we pray with “If it be your will,” we tend to make our prayers wishy-washy. We tend to have no confidence that God will come through when we pray this way. We tend to have Plan B in mind. I’ve learned over 22 years on the mission field that if you pray for Plan A and you have Plan B as your contingency plan, you are most likely going to be settled with Plan B. Why? Because God does not honor prayers we really don’t want to see through. God never has a Plan B.

Many say we need to have a back-up plan in case Plan A falls through. How about we learn how to trust and depend upon God so we have no need for Plan B? That’s a very bold move to make. While there are times where I make contingency plans, for most of my life the last 10-15 years, I have not had one. I only know my core, general direction to be involved with youth, and my current step, where I am at. I do not have plans on going this direction and if that does not work, I will go back and try that direction. It is difficult for me to make future plans because all I know is core direction and current step. So as long as I stay in tune with what God wants me to be doing, I will not have to pray, “If it be your will.” I can instead pray, “Let your will be done.”

Let us stop praying with “If it be your will.” Let us stop praying with cop out prayers that require minimal, if any, faith. Let us stop resorting to contingency plans that depend on our own skills and planning, and start depending more wholly upon the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us start praying real prayers of true faith and stop with this half-hearted wishy-washy prayers of cowardice. Yes, I said that. We have so lost what true praying is like that we settle for just a shadow of what it should be. What if we were to start seeing true, Biblical prayer again in our lives and in our churches? I have had no models to show me what real praying is like. But I am in the process of learning. I have started reading books about prayer from the likes of Eric Ludy, E.M Bounds, Leonard Ravenhill, Reece Howells, Hudson Taylor, Andrew Murray, Charles Spurgeon, Richard Wurmbrant, George Mueller, John Hyde, and others. Most of these books are still on my to-read list and some I will need to purchase soon. A couple I have already read or have started reading. I have also been listening to sermons about prayer by Paul Washer, Leonard Ravenhill, A.W. Tozer, and David Wilkerson that I’ve found on You Tube. These preachers and missionaries knew what prayer was and what it took. I can say that by the time I am done with them, I am likely to be a different person if I seek to apply what they have learned. I can also say that these men did not pray the way we generally pray here in America today. They did not pray with “If it be your will.” They prayed with, “Bring your will and do it.” I want to learn the kind of prayers that turn the world upside down. I want to have the kinds of prayer that can take what God has shown me intellectually and carry it out in my daily life. I no longer want to know about prayer. I want to live it. And I cannot do that if my prayers are weak, wishy-washy, full of doubt, and with no real confidence of it coming through.

Next week, I am going to introduce a type of prayer the majority of us do not think about: Praying God’s prayers. Getting a word from God about what to pray for, before you start praying.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.