– Phillips Brooks
His Perfect Will
We sometimes pray for things that are not the will of God. I ought to know; I’ve done it. But experience has taught me to pray for God’s will to be done over my own. I trust God’s will but not so much my own. God sees things that are not yet as though they are already in existence (Romans 4:17), but I can’t. I must learn to trust God and pray for His will over my own because my finite mind is unable to grasp the infinite mind of God.
His Ultimate Best
God alone knows what is best for us, much better than we do. Imagine a parent whose child comes up to ask if he or she can play with knives. The young child doesn’t know how much harm the knives can cause, but the parent does. The parent knows more than the child does about knives and knows that the child doesn’t really know what’s best for them (or safe!). Likewise, we cannot know what is ultimately for our best. Only God knows this, so we can trust Him and that no matter what happens, good or bad, it will work out for our very best (Romans 8:28).
We know that “the Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Is that our desire, too? Does the desire that none should perish apart from Christ translate into witnessing for Christ? It should, knowing their ultimate fate without Christ (Revelation 21:8). What “is good and pleasing in the sight of God our Savior” (1 Timothy 2:3) is that God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). Our desires should be what God desires.
We should always include in our prayers the goal of glorifying God in our lives by our actions and our words. The Westminster Shorter Catechism states that “man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.” Jesus often prayed for God to be glorified through Him, and Jesus did just that. If we bear godly fruit, it is “by this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:8).
There is nothing that lies beyond the reach of prayer except that which lies outside the will of God. So pray for God’s perfect will because this brings about the very best for us. Besides, we should desire what God desires; and one desire He has is that He is glorified.