‘And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know, he hears us when we make our requests; we also know that he will give us what we ask for.’(I Jn. 5v14-15)

NO doubt, prayer is an important part of the Christian life. Jesus said: ‘Men ought to pray always…’ But sometimes we are worried why people pray and do not receive answers. God is not on holiday, withdrawn or too busy to answer the prayers of His people.

The writer of the first letter of John lays emphasis on God’s will, not our will. When we communicate with God, we don’t demand what we want; rather we discuss with Him what he wants for us. If we align our prayers to his will, he will listen, and we can be certain that if he listens, he will give us a definite answer.

But today, we have some identified obstacles to praying according to God’s will. The first is when our prayer is dictatorial. No one dictates to God: ‘I want this or nothing else’. God who created the world ex-nihilo (out of nothing) is not to be ordered or commanded. Any prayer therefore in this regard is not according to His will.

The second is a grumbling prayer; when God is blamed for unanswered prayers. The children of Israel grumbled against the Lord and he dealt with them. Rather than grumble, we make our requests known to God. ‘Lord I asked for a job and you did not give it to me and now the year is running out.’ This prayer is a grumble and should be avoided.

The third is resentful prayer: ‘I cried and you could not help me.’ God’s time is divine and whoever comes to God in prayer must be patient.

The fourth is a doubting prayer. This questions the fidelity of God. There is fear and trembling: “May be God cannot perform.” Sometimes, people look for alternatives to their prayers. And as soon as this is not possible, they veer off (like going to prayer houses, meeting Babalawo’s etc) from God’s will. He did warn: ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me.’ (Ex. 20:3)

The fifth is hypocritical prayer: ‘O Lord, save the heathens,’ but no effort is made at the salvation of their souls or ‘O Lord send forth labourers into your vineyard but not me or my children.’

These and others are pervasions of the will of God. The writer of the first letter of John was confident: ‘God hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him… he will give us what we ask for’.

It therefore behoves believers today to pray according to the will of God.

In I Kings 3:7-14, Solomon asked for wisdom, and understanding to govern God’s people with justice and equity. It pleased God, and God said it is true you asked for wisdom and not wealth or riches, I shall add these to you. Solomon’s prayer was in line with God’s will.

Some young people make bogus requests. If a JSS 2 student is asking for a jeep, what is he going to do with it? How can a jeep help his academic pursuit at that age? Some prayers we make fall into this category. If what we want is not be in agreement with God’s will, we should not expect any answer or result from God.

It is also good to note that prayers, according to the will of God, must be made in the name of Jesus— no substitutes, no alternatives. The Bible says: ‘And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.’ (Jn. 16v23) ‘Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.’ (Jn. 14v6)

Let us be encouraged to pray according to the will of God. After all, the Holy Spirit intercedes, knowing our weaknesses: ‘Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.’(Rm. 8v26-28)

As we go through the last month of the year 2011, let us start praying with confidence in line with the will of God. The word of Jesus is very, very instructive: ‘…Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.’(Lk. 22:42).

Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Retreat Centre,
Delta State.

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