Pray for God’s Will or My Wishes?

God gives us free will to have our own desires and wishes. He said, “Ask and you shall receive.” But we pray, “They will be done” in The Lord’s Prayer. So, which one is it? Should we ask for our wishes or pray for God’s perfect will to be done?

As a child, I always prayed for what I wanted. For my Mom to be cured of cancer, for my brother who died when he was sixteen to be resting in heaven, to pass a test in school.

After all, we were told to ASK for what we wanted.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Matthew 7:7-8 NIV

During adulthood, I realized I’d missed the mark on praying for God’s will to be done, even though I’d prayed it a million times during The Lord’s Prayer.

10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

Matthew 6:10 NIV

The beauty of God’s gift of free will allows us to make choices independently of God’s wishes.

So, which one was I supposed to pray for – my wishes or God’s will?

Once I grasped the conflict of “God’s Will” versus “Ask and you shall receive,” I was stymied.

Should I really ask if my wishes weren’t in line with God’s will? If my wishes didn’t seem possible or probable?

One day the answer jumped off the pages and knocked me upside the head.

Jesus taught me the answer is actually very simple.

39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

Matthew 26:39 NIV

When Jesus was about to be turned over to His inevitable death, He was scared and sad. He was agonizing over the path before Him. He was human. It was the last thing He wanted to do. Even though everything in His human life had led Him to that moment, He wasn’t ready. He didn’t want it.

And in two sentences, He taught us everything we need to know about praying, about asking and receiving, about praying for God’s will to be done.

His answer is: Do Both!

He asked for what He wanted:

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.”

Matthew 26:39 NIV

And immediately after He also surrendered to the will of God.

“Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

Matthew 26:39 NIV

It’s really how a respectful child would react to a parent. “Mom, I want to go to the movies, but if you say I need to stay home and do my homework, I will respect that and not be mad and throw a tantrum, even if I’m disappointed.”

“Ask and you shall receive” doesn’t mean we’ll always get our way. It means our prayers will be answered in one way or another, probably not in the way we imagine or hope or pray they’ll be answered.

Follow Jesus’ lead and ask God for your wants and needs, but surrender to His supreme power and be open-minded to the answer He gives.

Do you pray for your wishes or God’s will? Let me know in the comments below!


This beautiful musical rendition is good for meditative reflection:


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