“Please show me your will about _____, Father.” How many times have I prayed that prayer? Or how about, “Lord, make it clear to me what direction to go regarding _____.” Likewise, I’ve often asked, “If _____ isn’t your will, please reveal what is.” Perhaps many of you have, like me, uttered these prayers hurriedly in a crisis or fervently cried them out to God over many days…months…years regarding a particular issue of the heart. These are classic, biblical, evangelical prayers seeking out God’s perfect will for our lives, right? Hmmm…perhaps. Are these God-honoring prayers of faith and child-like dependence or penetrating rays of light which reveal the depravity of our own hearts in the form of faithlessness?
In a recent conversation with a dear brother and fellow seminary classmate, I was challenged to examine this very question. I was immediately convicted by the Spirit that, for the most part, when I have muttered the aforementioned prayers or others like them, that it wasn’t flowing out of a heart of faith and dependence. Since that conversation, I’ve been contemplating this question consciously and subconsciously as well as allowing it to marinate within my prayer life.
The conclusion that I’ve come to is that most often when I pray a prayer like, “Please show me your will about _____, Father,” it generally comes from a heart that wants to know God’s plan now so that I can have everything clear and comfortable in my mind about the future. My heart disposition in these prayers isn’t one of faith, but of unbelief. If I was truly resting and trusting in Him regarding _____, I would be able to wait for Him to reveal His will in His perfect time. In my impatience, I reveal the true condition of my heart. Perhaps, as my friend suggested, my prayer should be, “Father, please give me greater faith to just trust you with _____.”
Clearly, I’m instructed to ask God for wisdom when I lack it (see James 1:5). However, that instruction comes with a warning that I shouldn’t expect anything from Him if I don’t ask in faith (see James 1:6-8). Likewise, Hebrews 11:6 makes it clear that “without faith it is impossible to please God”; so, my faithless prayer cannot please Him. However, I find great hope in Jesus’ reaction to the plea of the father whose son was demon possessed (see Mark 9:17-27): “I do believe; help my unbelief.”
I write about my experience not to project my struggle onto anyone else, but perhaps because you might occasionally find yourself in a similar predicament! I’ve wrestled with petitioning God like this in our journey of raising support to get to Italy. However, this thought process has changed how I approach the Lord in praying. Now, I find myself more frequently asking Him to grow my faith rather than to reveal His will…