“Have no anxiety about anything, but in prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
The interplay of God’s will, our will, and the place of prayer is a fascinating topic, and unnecessarily thorny for many people. Do our prayers make a difference to God? If He knows all things, and knows what we need before we ask, then why do we need to ask?
If our lives were merely mechanisms then prayer would be unnecessary. But if God, in is His wonderful way, is sovereign AND honors our free will then we have a frankly incredible possibility of the merging of our will with God’s.
C. S. Lewis, as he often does, comes to the rescue. He wrote that we best imagine the world not as a state governed by a potentate but as a work of art, something like a play, in the process of being created. This means that God has decided to include us in the work of art, not merely as objects or actors saying our lines, but as fellow artists and authors. We have a hand in His hand.
What a thrilling thing life then becomes! As God works His will into the world and into our lives He invites us to talk with Him about all that is going on. Then He wonderfully and marvelously works our will into His will. He does not overpower, ignore, or erase us. He honors us as His children. We are His sons and daughters in whom He has created His very image. He includes us in His providence.
A different example:
I have had the privilege of going into the Amazon Valley some 8-10 times. We fly into Manaus, the largest city on the Amazon River. We board a boat and begin our journey down the river and soon we encounter a startling site. The river is two colors, side by side for miles. This is the Encontro das Aguas, the meeting of the waters. At Manaus, two rivers converge, the Amazon which is sandy brown, and the Rio Negra which, as the name suggests, is nearly black in color. They maintain their separate identities for quite a while because of differing densities and initial speeds where they meet, but eventually flow together and become one.
I think of my will and God’s will as something like that. We meet at the place of prayer, where my will may have come at a different speed from God’s and may be at an awkward angle. But if I persist in prayer then soon God graciously works my will into His. Together we become part of the mighty River of Providence. Through prayer I experience the meeting of the waters, and then the merging of the waters.
An example. I have become more acutely aware in the autumn of my life to fears and anxieties. Reluctantly I have concluded that any fear I have is due to a lack of trust. In fear, I have declared God undependable.
So I carry my fear to God. The waters of my will are roiling. They are a different speed and at an awkward angle from God’s peaceful and patient will. The difference is obvious as I try to justify my fears. The waters flow side by side. But soon, and this has never failed to happen, there is a merging of the waters. God reminds me of who He is and soon peace returns to my soul. The waters have merged.
I encourage you this week to take your troubled will to God. Be honest. Be humble. Be open. Trust that He will give you what you need to handle the challenges that come your way. Then watch for the merging of the waters where your will becomes God’s will.
Dr. Terry Ellis
September 7, 2014