How do you explain praying God's will and not your own?


How can I best explain to someone about praying God's will? Her sister is deathly ill and she just keeps praying for the sister to be cured of the cancer. I told her she should be praying God's will, not her own. She doesn’t understand and I am not sure how to explain it. She says it is never God's will for someone to die.  While I am a Christian myself and I understand how to pray God's will I am not sure how to explain it to her. I have friends who, when their young daughter was critically injured in a horse riding accident, they never once prayed for her to be fully healed, but kept praying that God's will be done, not their own. The girl recovered fully and they give God the glory! But I still am unsure how to explain it to someone.


I recently heard a gospel preacher, Simon Harris, explain his journey in going from praying for his fifteen-year-old daughter's life, who was dying from a brain tumor, to praying that God decide how best to handle the situation. There is no doubt that Simon and his wife desperately wanted to stay with their daughter, but over time they realized that their personal desire might not be the best thing for her. Did they really wanted her to live an extended life dealing with the damage the tumor caused her body? Or, would life be better for her in a new, incorruptible body while living in the Lord's care? Eventually they knew it wasn't a decision they were equipped to make and so they asked God.

Your friend, because of her grief, has forgotten that a surety of life is that we all die. Charlton Heston made the quip, "The world is a tough place. You're never going to get out of it alive." We forget that the earth isn't what life is all about. Peter referred to Christians as sojourners and pilgrims. We're just passing through on our way home. That is why living righteously in the sight of God is so important. We want to make sure we make it home. "And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation" (Hebrews 9:27-28).

God answers prayers, not with what we think we want or demand, but with what we really need. "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!" (Matthew 7:7-11). Sometimes we need to take a moment and reflect on how God takes our deepest desires and answers them in ways we didn't expect and ways greater than we dreamed possible. "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen" (Ephesians 3:20-21).

Your friend ought to pray for what she fervently desires and remain willing to accept that she doesn't always know how those desires should come about and leave those details in the Lord's hands. Pray that she will be free from the pain of her disease, that her life has meaning to both her and those who love her, that she might know joy and comfort, and that she be found an acceptable servant of God when it is her time to meet with the Lord.