James 4:13-15 Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that."
Many who pray take here a wonderful scripture and believe misapply it. It seems so often that people end every prayer and every request with some rephrasing of “if it be your will.”
Matthew 21:22 is quite clear that anything we will ask for in prayer we will receive it. Of course there is an extreme application in this verse as well, mainly that we start asking for things outside the will of God. My main contention with the common application of James 4:13-15 is that ending everything with “if it be your will” begins to sound more like a disclaimer statement for something in case it is not fulfilled as we would expect. It is an action carried out based on a lack of faith.
I believe that when we pray and make requests we focus too much on the specifics and not enough on the abstract concept. We focus on our wants and needs instead of how God can be glorified through what we ask for. We forget 1 Corinthians 10:31 and we forget that we were created primarily to worship and glorify God
For instance We might pray that God give us a specific job… “if it be your will” of course. I’m sure most of us realize we shouldn’t be praying for things outside the will of God. No doubt a righteous God could not answer those requests. We could however pick those things apart and pray for the abstract concepts with confidence. Ask yourself why do you want the job? Do you want security, do you want to provide for your family, do you want a work environment that honors God, do you want it because it is more convenient then another job? Then examine those things to see what you know to be consistent with God’s character and pray for those things. Pray that God would be glorified through providing you with your needs, instead of a specific solution. Pray that if God would be glorified through placing you in a work environment that builds you rather than destroys you. Pray that God would be glorified through allowing your family to be more efficient with a more convenient job. Pray for whatever your request should be if it is tuned in with the will of God.
I don’t want to say that we should never pray for specifics, but I think we all need to be more careful and reflective on what specifically we are asking God for. Is our ultimate goal in our request to meet a want or even a need, or is it to bring God glory?