Luke 22:42 Father, if thou wilt, remove this chalice (cup) from me: but yet not my will, but thine be done (Douay-Rheims Bible).
There are 650 prayers recorded in the Bible with 450 responses included. Twenty-five of those prayers were spoken by Jesus who always offered a perfect example for making a request to God.
However, all prayers are not constructive, as we learn in James 4:3, "Yet even when you do pray, your prayers are not answered, because you pray just for selfish reasons."
Although James said that improper prayers are not answered, yet they are at least not answered in the way we wanted, after receiving something else than we first expected or that we failed to foresee. Consider the following example.
God told Isaiah to inform good King Hezekiah to finish his business and prepare for imminent death; however, rather than accept divine will, the sovereign "set his face to the wall" and began desperately praying. Subsequently, the Almighty relented and gave the monarch fifteen more years to live (Isaiah 38:1-5), and in that gracious extension of life, Hezekiah foolishly destroyed Israel (Isaiah 39:3-7).
While many literally interpret the phrase "set his face to the wall," yet the fragment might also be a metaphor for "directing one's will against immovable objects or insurmountable odds," similar to the verse, "I have set my face like a flint (Isaiah 50:7)."
Much like King Hezekiah, I have twice "set my face like a flint to the wall" to determinedly pray for something I earnestly wanted and eventually received. However, now that I am older and wiser (or at least older), I wonder if I should have prayed more like Jesus, "Not my will, but thine be done," simply because what I wanted was not what I expected in the end.
Rather than always "setting our face like a flint," maybe we should remember to remain like soft clay on the potter's wheel and allow God to accomplish His perfect will (Jeremiah 8:2-6).
Consider the words of David, a man who painfully learned the outcome of selfishness, "Trust in the LORD and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. 4Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires. 5Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you.... 7Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act (Psalms 37:3-5, 7)."
Heavenly Father, teach us to simply trust You and learn "to be content whatever the circumstance... to know what it is to be in need, and to know what it is to have plenty... to learn the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want... since we can do all things through You who gives us strength (Philippians 4:11-13)." Amen
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