God's Will and Our Prayer
Pr. Babu Cherian
Most people see prayer as a tool used by a drowning person attempting to save himself by holding on to a piece of string! Since some people have received help or escaped during such attempts, others are fooled and continue likewise believing they too can ‘get away’ with that kind of prayer. What is significant is not ‘how’ a person has escaped from deep water. It’s a matter of great joy for him and also for others that he indeed escaped from a grave situation.
Our Lord Jesus has taught us that prayer is not merely saving oneself from drowning in water; instead, He taught that prayer is the way to keep ourselves from falling into the water. When everything seems out of man’s control even an atheist may cry out ‘my God’. And our compassionate God might answer that cry and offer deliverance, but prayer is not merely that.
The contemporary Christian community often paints a very inadequate definition of prayer. This is obvious when we carefully pay heed to daily incidents and conversations around us. Listen to the words of a doctor as he speaks to the family of a patient he has treated for three months, “The only thing left for you to do is to take this patient home and pray”. It was obvious now to the family that there was no hope left for the patient. A pilot announced during a flight, “Passengers are requested to fasten your seat belt as we are going through turbulent weather”. A few moments later he repeated the announce- ment “Please keep seat belts fastened and stay calm as we are still going through rough weather conditions.” Still later the pilot announced, “Passengers may now pray as we have lost touch with the Air Traffic Control Tower and we seem to have miscalculated badly.”
Our community teaches us to pray when all doors are closed and every expectation fails. But we must learn to pray when everything goes well and smooth. We must understand the need to pray before the doors close. We are urged to pray even before falling into temptation so that we may escape from being entrapped. A good many people recite the Lord’s Prayer without truly catching the essence of it. Have we tried to understand what Jesus was trying to teach through this model prayer? Mathew.6:9-13.Our Father which art in heaven,Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. It is imperative to understand here that prayer is not a magic wand meant to be used in an emergency. Rather, it must be an attitude, habit or lifestyle that will keep us close to the Lord at all times.
I would like to highlight eight important aspects of the Lord’s Prayer that has been revealed to me: 1) Our heavenly Father…..Here we see the greatness of God being our Father. One great truth we need to understand is that even before we start praying the sinful man can became a child of God. ‘Who prays’ is more significant than ‘what we pray’. 2) Hallowed be your name 3) Thy kingdom come 4) Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven. The above three attitudes are purely God related and not man related. It speaks of God’s name, God’s kingdom and God’s will. If we pay due cognizance to these, much misunderstanding and ignorance in prayer can be avoided. It will do us well to note that four of the eight areas highlighted in this prayer are related to God’s will. Only one of the eight speaks of praying for our physical needs. Other areas focused are our relationship with society and forgiveness. The last two aspects talk of deliverance from satanic works. Jesus throws light on and gives us a proper perspective on prayer in a situation where the very essence of prayer is destroyed by a society that prays only when a crisis occurs or hypocrites who pray with wrong motives.
Just as a person cannot be trained ahead of time to keep from drowning, no advance training can be given to one for unforeseen accidents or emergencies. However, we can take precaution and keep ourselves from falling into the water / problems. The Lord’s Prayer gives us an entirely different and higher vision. Since most life situations come in unannounced and when we are least prepared, we need to be in prayer at all times that we may receive grace to face such challenges each day and to discern God’s holy will for our lives. God has great purposes to be fulfilled through us within our family, church, nation and even across the earth. Hence, the need to seek a clear revelation through prayer.
We need to learn to pray thus, ‘Our Father in heaven, make me an instrument so that your name is glorified through me. Let your kingdom be established on this earth, so that your will be done here as it is in heaven’. That is how the Lord taught us to pray. Again, it does not mean that we ought not to pray for our urgent needs. We have a gracious God who meets our needs at all times as we pray. There are several instances in the Word of God and our own experiences have taught us that our God is merciful to our cry and answers our urgent payers unconditionally. My humble plea is that we would never dishonor the Lord by seeking Him in emergencies or when faced with adverse situations only - as one would seek a doctor only in times of sickness or an advocate only when faced with arbitration. May we remember that He needs us just as we need Him. His expectations and plans for us are far higher than we can even imagine. Let’s pray consistently with a desire to know the will of God, rather than spending most of our time in prayer asking for the material things to fulfill our selfish interests. May our only desire be to have God’s will fulfilled through our lives.