In my last post, I said the following:
“Control and manipulation isn’t prayer, and even prayer, the most powerful call we have, cannot override God-given free will. We can pray someone into their right mind, giving them complete clarity when choosing, but we can’t override their choice. We can stand on a promise of salvation for a loved one and pray it into fruition, but we cannot effect that salvation through force of will.”
Pauline had a question about this, and I think it’s a great chance for clarity, so I’d like to address it today. Pauline said in response to the quote above, “I struggle with this. In relation to 1 John 5:14-15, since we know that God’s Word is His will, can we not be confident that He will answer “Yes” when we base our prayers on His Word?”
To Pray in the Will of God
I’m glad that Pauline asked this question, because I don’t want there to be any misunderstandings about what I’ve said. 1 John 5:14-15 is quite clear that when we pray in accordance with God’s will, those prayers are answered.
Now this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for.
1 John 5:14-15 HCSB
Praying in the will of God is what we’re called to do, and it is an honor, privilege, and responsibility of the highest order. When I said, “We can stand on a promise of salvation for a loved one and pray it into fruition, but we cannot effect that salvation through force of will,” the ‘force of will’ that I was referring to was not God’s but our own.
It is my place to pray for the salvation of another. It is NOT my place to make this salvation take place when and how my will would have it. Before I was saved, I must have had quite a spiritual bull’s eye on my forehead. I know that I was prayed into the Kingdom – I have not the smallest doubt that that’s what happened. But a few people weren’t content just to pray.
To Pray in MY Will
My salvation – or lack thereof – was an issue that had to be dealt with immediately, and there were a handful of people who believed that they were the ones to get it done. I was softly cajoled, given the friendly sales pitch, manipulated with guilt, given the hard sales pitch and finally, yelled at. In each of those situations, my will was assaulted by another’s. It’s one thing to share the Gospel, and quite another to present the Gospel while attempting to ensnare an ‘errant’ will. This is a prime example of what I mean when I say “we cannot effect that salvation through force of will.”
I have had my will assaulted and I have assaulted the wills of others. Every opinion I belted out, every expectation I put on someone, every angle I lined up for the purpose of manipulating an outcome, every gift I gave with strings attached—these are just a few of the ways that I’ve assaulted the God-given free will of another person. And these are a few of the ways my own will has been assaulted. This is the heart of natural human interaction, but God’s ways are not our ways.
He is going to have His way, and I am so very grateful! I want to pray clean, untangled prayers that line up with one will only – God’s. May it be so!
Many plans are in a man’s mind, but it is the Lord’s purpose for him that will stand.
Proverbs 19:21 AMP
Thank you Jen. That hit me right where I live. I have been guilty of trying to make a loved one come to the Lord on my terms and in my time. Forgive me, Lord, and help me do it right. Love to all the Shulamites
Thank you, Jennifer. That is so clear; I don’t always ‘get’ things the first time around . . . but I am enjoying (and being challenged by) Martha’s booklet, “The Power of Decision,” even though I’ve read it before (case in point).
I bless you, Jennifer, for taking the time to respond so kindly and thoroughly.
Amen, here and there.