Because God is sovereign, all the moments of our days are ordered. That’s true even for a king:
“A king’s heart is like channeled water in the LORD’s hand: He directs it wherever he chooses.” (Proverbs 21:1).
Furthermore, God always acts in accordance with His will, and His will is good and perfect even though we, as humans, might not understand how or why He makes the decisions He makes. His ways are not our ways, nor are his thoughts our thoughts (see Isa. 55:8-9).
In our arrogance we might very easily assume a posture of presumption when it comes to the will of God. For example, we might assume what God’s will is for our job, our finances, or our future without even asking Him about it. James warned against this kind of arrogance about the will of God:
“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.’ Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring — what your life will be! For you are like vapor that appears for a little while, then vanishes. Instead, you should say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So it is sin to know the good and yet not do it.” (James 4:13-17).
In our limited ability to know what will come in the future, we can’t make claims about what will happen next. As James said, we’re like a vapor. Even our next moments of life aren’t promised to us. Unlike us, God not only knows what will happen but is also exercising His sovereign power to bring it about. How should we respond to this reality?
On the one hand, we might live with a sense of fatalism. Concluding that nothing we do really matters because God has determined His will and will bring it about, we simply stop living. And we stop praying because we think our prayers won’t affect the outcome God has already decided.
On the other hand, though, we might live with even more confidence. We might pray even more because maybe God has determined that our prayers will be the reason a certain circumstance changes. But to press on further in prayer, we must not only know that God’s will is sure and certain; we must also trust that His will is the best outcome.
Fortunately for us, God’s will is a function of His character. If we believe that God is good, loving, generous, and wise and that He’s a Father who always acts in the best interests of His children, we should long for His will to be done. It’s because we trust in the character of God, who has shown Himself to be faithful time and time again, that we can trust the will of God.
So even though we might not know what tomorrow holds and even though we can boastfully make claims about the future, we can nonetheless pray for God’s will to come to pass. For Christians, then, praying for God’s will to be done is both a matter of great humility and of great boldness at the same time.