The will

Essay by sflam August 2005

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The will of God is a mysterious thing. One which no man fully understands and too many delude themselves into believing that they do. We cannot escape it, nor can we discover the secret to deciphering it. Man lacks the omniscience. As a mortal, finite creature, humans find it impossible to access the infinite in a complete understanding. Like an android attempting to understand what it is to hope or feel disappointment, man is not wired to understand God, nor His will. But we can and are called to trust in it. The highest calling of man is to trust that God will reveal His will appropriately and then obey whatever that may be. What is most interesting about this highly provocative and volatile subject is that in the past fifty years it lost its respectability with Christians in certain groups. Evidence surfaces most clearly in the realm of prayer and requests made to God to believe that many Christians no longer depend upon God's will.

Through new incarnations of old, ludicrous doctrine, it has been suggested that Christians should no longer pray God's will.

"Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done," Christ once said as a guide for His followers in their own prayers. However, to pray for the 'will of God' in a given situation for many comes across as weak and even cowardly. I, myself, have felt the tinge of spinelessness when saying "Your will be done, my Lord," instead of demanding, pleading, willing what I think should happen. This thinking transforms requests to God into the equivalent of a child running through the toy store grabbing at every item on the shelves. Like a toddler, ignoring its father's exhortations "Don't touch" or "Be careful," many lunge after the "Yes" answers to their prayers.

The idea behind this is that Christians, as the children of God, will receive from their loving Father what they ask if they ask faithfully. "Just have faith," the common encouragement goes, trotting along, assuming that whatever was prayed for must be good or in the will of God, since it was prayed by a child of God. The more dangerous attitude is one that consciously disregards what God wants or believes that God will give whatever if one wills it strong enough, "has enough faith." In such a practice, I only need to squeeze my eyes tight enough, sing long enough, dance fast enough, serve enough, and witness to enough people, and my wish--pardon me!--prayer will be answered. How institutionally beautiful! A more wonderful and simple principle could never be conceived! It appeals to both the spiritual desire to commune with God, and the greediness of man, wanting what we want even at the price of deceiving ourselves into believing a lie.

But, we may retort, God wants what is best for me. He wants me to be happy and healthy; he promises us as much. Perhaps, but what if He does not bless you? What if God decides that He has done enough for man and allows things to run its course for the rest of history. The very idea may repulse us but would He not be justified in doing as much. Who are we to question the one who set the stars into place and carved out the ocean floor and sustains all life in the universe?

The highest and most fulfilling prayer of anyone is "Your will be done." It demands more faith to leave our requests and desires at the throne of God, depending upon His sovereign will. Also, it provides the most reassuring peace, because of those promises that God has made to us. We need not worry about tomorrow when we ask "Your will be done," for He will see to our troubles. It is the fulfillment of Jesus' call "Come all you who are weary and heavy laden...for my yoke is easy and my burden is light." We release the cares that leaden us down and take up his holy yoke of faith and trust in Him.