Clifton wrote to ask: “How can I pray in faith, such as for healing, knowing that God is going to accomplish His will and may or may not choose to heal me?”
What a great question!
The concept of prayer, one of the central practices in Christianity, is woven into the fabric of our relationship with God. It serves as a direct channel of communication, aligning our hearts with His divine will. Clifton’s question correctly identified two key elements that form the cornerstone of effective prayer: faith and alignment with God's will. There’s an intricate relationship between praying in faith and praying according to God's will from a biblical standpoint.
Faith as the Bedrock of Prayer
Faith is the prerequisite for prayer. At its core, faith is the confident assurance in the character and promises of God, even when circumstances seem contrary. When Jesus addressed the subject of prayer, He emphasized the importance of faith. According to Matthew 21:22, Jesus said, "And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith." This verse underscores that faith is an indispensable component of effective prayer.
In Hebrews 11:6, it says, "And without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him." Therefore, faith is not just about believing that God exists but also about trusting in His goodness, His ability to answer, and His perfect timing.
Aligning with God's Will in Prayer
Praying according to God's will is another crucial aspect of effective prayer. 1 John 5:14-15 says, "And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him." This passage underlines the importance of praying in line with God's will. But how do we discern God's will?
God's revealed will is found in Scripture. The Bible is a guidebook filled with God's intentions, character, and promises. Therefore, aligning our prayers with biblical truths is a sure way to pray according to God's will.
In Clifton’s example of praying for healing, you don’t know God’s will. He may choose to heal you or allow you to remain ill. He may even determine to bring you home to heaven. In prayer, you express the longing of your heart to God. You have faith that He hears you, loves you, and wants what’s best for you. But you also pray that God’s will is accomplished in your life.
Praying in Faith and According to God's Will: A Dynamic Relationship
Faith and praying in line with God's will are not mutually exclusive. They are intertwined aspects of prayer, each feeding and reinforcing the other. When we pray with faith, we show our reliance on God and our conviction that He will accomplish His will. On the other hand, when we pray in alignment with God's will and for God’s will, our faith is strengthened because we’re praying for what He has promised and purposed.
The interplay between faith and God's will can be seen in Jesus' prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus prayed, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will" (Matthew 26:39). In this heartfelt plea, Jesus embodied absolute faith in the Father, coupled with complete submission to His will.
The relationship between praying in faith and praying according to God's will reveals a profound truth: Prayer is not about bending God's will to ours but molding our will to align with His. It's about trusting His wisdom and the humility to submit to His sovereign plans. As believers, may we be inspired to deepen our prayer lives, grow in faith, and continually seek alignment with God's divine will.