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Don’t Undermine Your Prayers

Thy will be done” Matt 6:10

Before I jump in today, I want to ask you to read this with grace. The following comments are not intended to injure, insult, or mock, but to open your heart and mind and consider another point of view. If you cannot read on with grace and an open heart, please stop reading now. If you read with grace and disagree – that is great! I disagree with many of my closest friends, so you are in good company.

(one more confession here – I have rewritten this about 5 times now trying to get my what is in me out without sounding like a crazy person)

OK – Here we go

Jesus uses this phrase or one very similar in 2 places. Here, where He is teaching His disciples to pray, and again in the Garden of Gethsemane. We have taken His use in the Garden, and applied it to many situations where I believe it is actually hindering our prayers.

Christ in Gethsemane (Christus in Gethsemane),...
Christ in Gethsemane Heinrich Ferdinand Hofmann (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First, let’s understand that in the case of Jesus and the cross, this was a non-negotiable with the Father. In fact we understand that Jesus was the lamb slain before the foundation of the earth. (Rev 13:8) He was submitting to the will of the Father in an unbelievably unreasonable situation. The Father was actually asking Him (Jesus) to do something that was going to, for the first time ever, separate Him from the presence of the Father. God was asking Jesus to do something so horrible that the Father would no longer be able to look on His only begotten Son. He (the Father) would be forced to forsake – turn His back on – His beloved Son.

Next let me also assure you, I get that James said we should make our plans for the future with the will of God in mind – I will see you tomorrow, “Lord willing” - I am not struggling with this.

(Apply grace here!)

OK, here is my thing. We take these wonderful words of Jesus, and tag them on to the end of our prayers and use it to undermine our faith. How so? (you may be asking) Consider:

But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. (James 1:6-8 KJV)

This word that the KJV translates as “wavereth” in many translations is doubt, but the Greek word here is diakrinō which has the idea of being in an argument, and by the context it is talking about being in an argument with yourself. The phrase “double minded” James uses in verse 8 clears it up for me.

James is telling us that if a man is asking God (in this case for wisdom, which is promised and clearly God’s will for us) but is double minded in his approach to the Father, we should not let him expect to receive anything from God. Strong words!

Think about Jesus’ parables about the woman who needs bread at night, or the woman who presses the judge for justice. In both cases she takes her desired end, and presses her desired result and only what she wants. She does not go to her neighbor and say “May I have a loaf of bread, if it is your will?” and then go away and see what happens. She knocks, and knocks and knocks and knocks and knocks and persists with her request until she has what she desires of the Lord.

When I was in High School my family was part of Fourth Presbyterian Church in Bethesda MD, where Richard C. Halverson was pastor. I remember him teaching on the idea of Jesus’ words “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” in John 14:14. He said if the thing you most desire is a million dollars and you ask God for a million dollars every day, God will either get the million dollars into your hands, or change the desire of your heart.

My exhortation here is this: If you have a strong desire in your heart, or a pressing need in your life, approach the Father with a single mind. Press for it, and be relentless. If what you are asking for is not the will of God, and you continue to enter his courts (with thanksgiving and praise) with your request, I am convinced you will either receive what you are asking for, or continued exposure to the Father will change your desires to fit His will.

Tagging your prayer with “if it be Thy will” can undermine your resolve and leave you in a place where you cannot receive anything from the Lord (according to James.) Jesus’ parable of the unjust judge in Luke 18: 1-8 ends with His question “when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”

Pray in faith, nothing wavering, and trust God to fix it if you are way outside His will. [Tweet This].

Thanks for reading today, and thanks for extending me grace. If you really think I have missed it, let’s talk about it – leave a comment and we can reason together.

Come back again soon.


0 thoughts on “Don’t Undermine Your Prayers

  1. Janine

    Thank you for writing this post. I agree with you. Asking in faith and persistence brings the desired blessing. Have a wonderful day:)

  2. Julie Resch-Hodgman

    Did read this with grace,Ben. It wasn't difficult because I'm very aware, as most who know you are, of your love for our Lord. Yet I cannot disagree more. I respectfully have to say that one has to experience a great fall from health and loss of quality of one's life,( year after year of pain on pain, rejection after rejection by "friends" who became too tired to stick by you,too tired to listen with love rather than boredom,and I won't go on listing all the other losses) in order to understand at all, Ben.
    My Christian counselor who is a strong believer, as well as a medical doctor,lovingly but firmly, calles this phonomena"The arrogance of the healthy". Suggestion: Check out a book on entitled, "Hope Transformed" by Joy and Tait Cruse. If you're at all interested in reading it, you are welcome to borrow my copy after it arrives(and I finish it:-)

    1. Ben Nelson

      Julie, Thank you for reading with grace. I am so sorry if I have come across as arrogant, and I definitely do not have all the answers. I also can say there is stuff in our lives that we have prayed through for decades, and often get frustrated and confused when we don't see answers to what we believe to be "the will of God." I don't get it, and I don't pretend to know why, but i continue to pray. Even in the deafening silence of unanswered prayer.
      I will gladly borrow your book once you have finished with it.

  3. Fredd Wright


    I understand the spirit in which you write but i disagree with your conclusion that praying "if it be thy will" undermines your resolve. You can pray "if it be your will" with a strong resolve and you can also pray with a weak resolve without that phrase. You mentioned that if you ask God earnestly, you should ask him with the understanding that God will either give you what you want or change your desires if he doesn't want you to have it. Another way to phrase that understanding in a prayer is "if it be your will". We should always want God's will MORE than what we ask him for because we should always seek his glory first.
    I like how it was phrased this way. Say you are sick and come to God for healing. A good prayer would be something like "Lord, if will bring glory to your name, please heal me. But if it will glorify you more to leave me sick, then leave me sick".
    If we are truly seeking God's glory most of all, we CANNOT be disappointed!

    1. Ben Nelson

      Fredd, Thanks for jumping in. i appreciate any heart that yearns to see the will of God and His glory manifest in our lives. And your point about fervency and the phrase "if it be Thy will" is absolutely correct - definite broad brush on my part.


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