What does it mean when people say "God's will be done" or "Lord willing?"


What does it mean when people say "God's will be done" or "Lord willing?" For example, some may say a prayer to God about getting a particular job or being accepted into a university, but then they also say something similar to "if it's God's will." What do they mean by "God's will?" With whatever we do in life such as going to college or getting a certain job, and if they do get into a college we wanted to or get a job we desired, would it be because it was God's will?

I'm also confused about what exactly is God's will?


The concept is based on a passage in James. "Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil" (James 4:13-16).

James' point is that we need to realize and acknowledge that we have less control over our lives than we might wish to believe. I might have grand plans for what I want to accomplish next year, but I'm not privy to the Lord's plans. I might not be around next year. Our plans are conditional, only God's plans are permanent. "There are many plans in a man's heart, nevertheless the LORD'S counsel-that will stand" (Proverbs 19:21). We have desires and make plans, but ultimately the answer of whether our plans can be accomplished lies with God. "The preparations of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD" (Proverbs 16:1). Since we are so limited in understanding what is going on around us and what the long-range impact of our plans might be, we understand that God might overrule because He has something else that needs to be accomplished. "A man's heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps" (Proverbs 16:9).

This doesn't mean we have no control at all or that every plan we might make is always overruled. But it does mean we need to realize that our wants and desires cannot overrule or change what God has planned.