So which is it?
Are we to pray for God’s will or are we to pray asking God for what we want?
Is Jesus contradicting Himself?
Matthew 6:9-15 Jesus clearly teaches us to pray for His purposes for His will to be done and by implication, Jesus is teaching that prayer is about us aligning our will with God’s will. In prayer we are the one’s who are changed.
And yet in the very next chapter (Matthew 7:7-11), in the same sermon on the mount Jesus is teaching us to be proactive in prayer to ask our Father in heaven for He who is perfect in His love for us will respond willingly/generously when we call on Him in need or even when we desire something we don’t need.
Depending on our Christian tradition we will find either one of these statements regarding prayer as a naturally better ‘fit’ for us. For some prayer is not telling God what you want from Him but us asking God what He wants of us. For others prayer is about faith, which is born out of the confidence of knowing whom we are asking and knowing what our relationship to Him is!
Neither of these traditions is right, they both are half right – which is not right at all.
I love the paradox here, Jesus teaches two different truths held in tension and we are to hold onto both of them to understand His will for us in prayer.
We are to align our hearts our wills to His, in prayer we get tuned into His perspective and His desires and yet we are to know the freedom of little children before their Father who tend to ask things of their Father, not for a minute questioning His goodness or His love, and quite frankly not even often paying attention to His desires in that moment.
What a lovely picture of prayer!
It’s complex, dynamic, it’s about relationship and reflection, it’s appropriate to express raw desires with confidence knowing who we bring our requests to with faith.
The type of prayer Jesus speaks of refuses to be put into one box or another – it’s glorious and it’s our privilege. Amen.