Is It Okay to Pray, "If It Be Your Will, Lord?"

Question About Prayer

Family holding hands and praying over food at dinner table

Even Jesus prayed to the Father, “Your will be done,” in The Lord’s Prayer.

This verse in Matthew 26 again shows Jesus praying in a similar way:

  • Matthew 26:39
    He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

Some churches teach that God will only hear and answer our prayers if we pray with confidence and complete faith, according to his will. They base this teaching on the following verses of Scripture:

  • 1 John 5:14-15
    This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
  • Matthew 21:21-22 
    Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."

Yes, the Bible teaches us to pray specifically and without doubting when we know God's will. What the above verses don't say is that God only hears our prayers when we pray specifically, knowing his will. What they do reveal is that God won't answer prayer contrary to his will. So, if you are praying for God to make you wealthy so you can give more money to missions, but he knows you will end up falling into temptation and sin as a result of that wealth, he may not grant your request.

How Should We Pray?

The problem of unanswered prayer is not God's fault, nor is it due to our imperfect prayer techniques. The problem could be that we are asking for the wrong things, or not praying according to God's will. The problem may simply be that we don't know God's will.

In many instances, God's will is clearly revealed to us. The more we know Scripture, the more we can be sure of God's will when we pray. But the fact remains, we are human, imperfect, weak. We won't always know God's will. His infinite thoughts, ways, plans, and purposes can't always be understood by our finite, limited minds.

So, when we don't know God's will, there is nothing wrong with praying, “If it be your will, Lord.” Prayer is not about phrasing everything perfectly or using the correct formula in the exact right way. Prayer is about communicating with God from our hearts, in an honest, loving relationship. Sometimes we get too concerned about technique and forget that God knows our hearts and understands our human imperfections.

We even have this promise of help from the Holy Spirit when we don't know how to pray in Romans 8:26, "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." (NIV)

It shows humility and trust in God to admit we don’t understand his perfect will. So, I often pray, “Lord, this is what my heart desires, but what I truly want is your will in this situation.” Other times I pray, "Lord, I am not certain of your will, but I trust you will do what is best."

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Your Citation
Fairchild, Mary. "Is It Okay to Pray, "If It Be Your Will, Lord?"." Learn Religions, Aug. 25, 2020, Fairchild, Mary. (2020, August 25). Is It Okay to Pray, "If It Be Your Will, Lord?". Retrieved from Fairchild, Mary. "Is It Okay to Pray, "If It Be Your Will, Lord?"." Learn Religions. (accessed January 30, 2023).