Chapter 17: Prayer and God’s Will

GOD’s will is paramount. There is a need to remove superstition, gripping most people––assuming that all manner of inner feelings come from God. Appreciating God’s existence invites no superstition––where one becomes a victim of Satan’s confused communication. Without appreciating God’s existence, it is impossible to understand God’s will.

God communicates clearly to those who are sober and purified in sincerity. The behaviour of Christians should reflect Christ’s thinking, attainable through the Holy Spirit:  “I have been crucified with Christ: and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me….” (Gal. 2:20 ASV).

Heaven is viewed as something to look forward to. But this scripture suggests that the state of being in heaven is presently achievable. When Christ lives in one’s life, which other heaven would a person look for? Heaven is a state of being in the spirit with Christ, as also confirmed (Rev. 3:20–21 and John 14:1-7, 20-23).

Christ assertively stated that those with such faith become victors in physical challenges (John 14:12–14). Zimbabwe, appearing as rich in Christianity––judging by multitudes of Christian denominations––should not have survival challenges. However, it is not the number of churches that counts, but how many Christians uphold the faith of Jesus.

The Holy Spirit flows––enabling the application of God’s will––achieved by discarding one’s own will, first––in favour of God’s will. Paul admonishes: “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is” (Eph. 5:17 NIV). Prayer enables God’s will in one’s life. The disciples were instructed to pray, to avoid falling into temptation (Luke 22:40).

We have to explore this to appreciate what Christ meant, as this also hinges on faith, which is needed for salvation. How can prayer help in avoiding succumbing to temptation? This calls for understanding the significance of prayer.

Prayer implies petitioning God––desiring to achieve what is naturally impossible without Him. We are at liberty to ask anything in Christ’s name (Matt. 7:9–10). But goodness is associated with what was originally declared as very good at the beginning (Gen 1:31).

Oftentimes people ask amiss: “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:3 NIV).

Prayer is not about asking God to execute one’s own––but God’s will––which naturally, is ours. Christ said that we should specifically pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is in Heaven (Matt. 6:10). Prayer commits us to God’s will––intended for our well-being––without having to manipulate Him to meet our selfish desires.

Exercising God’s will includes even graciously appreciating things unpleasant to the flesh, rather than complaining (1 Thess. 5:18). The opposite of giving thanks is complaining, which humans are susceptible to––as if implying that God would be unaware of such circumstances. Indeed, nothing can separate us from God’s love (Rom. 8:38-39).

But Christ lamented: “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8 NIV). When considering the Christ-recommended petition in prayer, no reason remains for worrying about anything, as everything becomes attainable.

Even the fear of death goes! While people get healed of their infirmities, physical lives still end in a manner, unlikeable to ordinary humanity. When committed to applying the recommended prayer––even the most painful experiences cannot alter one’s conviction towards God.

Some people misapply the persistent widow parable––supposing that all personal desires are met in prayer (Luke 18:1-6). But Christ was not focusing on one’s desires being met ahead of God’s will. Personal desires are opposed to God’s Kingdom, hence condemnatory.

That parable was given after Jesus had provided terms and conditions of God’s Kingdom, which are spiritual (Luke 17:20-21). A spiritual person is not harassed by physical things. He does not despair when facing trials. God’s children can confront challenges.

Those accepting God’s Kingdom are no longer obsessed with perishable things of the flesh. Christ was showing how impossible it is for God not to cater for His children. The mind of a Christian is futuristic, more than obsessed with the present.

If physical desires could be met by constant prayer, the apostles could not have died. But their physical lives ended according to God’s pre-designed prerogative, befitting what was best for them. At the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus revealed that human nature cannot always appreciate God’s will (Matt. 26:36-44).

Positively responding to their request to teach them how to pray, Christ gave the exact guidelines—as a model (Luke 11:1-4). Unlike the Lord’s Prayer in John 17, this model resembles Matthew 6:9–13, erroneously referred to as ‘Lord’s Prayer’:

“When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation” (Luke 11:2 NIV).

The above prayer is a model for all Christians. This is not limited to the disciples who had requested to be taught how to pray. The prayer appears too brief, to those envisioning prayer as melodramatic. Jesus outlined the prayer model, aware of pagan practices:

“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matt. 6:7-8 NIV).

Let us carefully analyse this provision before answering the question of how prayer helps in avoiding temptation. The first obsession implores God’s help in pursuing programmes that keep holy, His name. The Christian conduct either glorifies God’s name or dishonours it.

This assertion bestows weighty responsibility for God’s name to be glorified. Like Jesus, one seeks ways that glorify God’s name ahead of one’s interests, regularly––coupled with meditation:

Our Father, hallowed be your name, your Kingdom come.”

Another way of dishonouring God’s name is reducing the Christian faith to another of the world’s religions. Imagine a preacher, charismatically stating that Christianity holds better solutions for humanity’s relations––thereby quoting Christ: “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this, sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 7:12 NIV).

This maxim is also the doctrine of the Lotus religion; taught by Gautama, the Buddha, living more than five hundred years before Christ1. This puts Christ in unfavourable comparison with the Buddha, whose enlightenment, could not have been through any other way, except through the same God of Christians.

In all His brief physical existence, Jesus never uttered God’s name. What reason is there for Christians to militate against other religions, if given the role of reconciliation? Comparing Christianity with other religions is, therefore, another way of dishonouring God’s name.

Christian faith represents God’s character traits, not necessarily comparable to other religions. God’s name cannot be compared with anything in this world. Christian practice should cause God’s name to be honoured when displaying God’s love in humility.

There is no other faith that was conferred with the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:16-21). Those doing so without espousing Christianity may be Christians without them affirming that reality (Matt. 5:9). God’s children are not limited to those calling themselves Christians. This was poignantly shown to the disciples who had all along limited God to themselves:

“Teacher,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop because he was not one of us.” “Do not stop him” Jesus said, “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward” (Mark 9:38-41 NIV).

Paul confronted the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers by not introducing Christianity or Judaism, but the “God who created all things” (Acts 17:16-34). He also effectively avoided reducing God to an object of ridiculous arguments, shunning habits of localizing God in terms of sectarian religious practices (1 Cor. 9:19-23).

When requesting for His Kingdom to come, one gets reminded of God’s peace, generally needed by all. One avails oneself in the advancement of the gospel, acknowledging the importance of it by living its fullness––encouraging others to do likewise.

A Christian is God’s child––identified by being a peacemaker (Matt. 5:9). Requesting for God’s Kingdom to come, confers the responsibility of projecting His name with high esteem.

One avoids imploring God to be always on one’s side when facing life’s challenges, but desiring that God be in other people’s lives as well. Having died at baptism, one is no longer guided by self-centeredness anymore, but earnestly pursuing peace––as represented in God only.

“Give us each day our daily bread.”

This petition––applied wholeheartedly––removes reducing requests to daily basic provisions. Our lives are often cluttered with multiple physical demands––leaving no time to think about God’s will––as if physical lives are designed to exist forever.

True Christians acknowledge God, who is in charge of all provisions. This petition may not necessarily be about physical meals; “man cannot live by bread alone, but by every word of God” (Matt. 4:4). The daily bread petition suggests spiritual edification, as Christ declared:

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33 NIV).

God’s word is daily food, ahead of emphasis on professional careers and material needs. Jesus revealed folly in hoarding wealth without considering God’s will (Luke 12:13-21). The behaviour of that rich fool suggests prudence in storing excess gains for future needs; yet missing the obvious reality of not being in control of life.

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you….” (Heb. 13:5-6 NIV).

Material care serves to choke the seed (Matt. 13:22). The projection of plans for future personal requirements appears as good, but only God holds prerogative for long life.  Foolishness lies in the failure to appreciate the possibility of dying, leaving wealth improperly managed by those not endorsing God’s Kingdom. A true Christian’s appetite focuses on spreading the gospel.

“Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.”

One cannot remain in physical condition without regularly violating God’s principles. Asking for God’s forgiveness makes one feel good. But there is more, as John stated;

“If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20 NIV).

Likewise, seeking God’s forgiveness, without sincerely asking for forgiveness from those, against whom one sins, is meaningless. God forgave us while we were still sinners (Rom. 5:8). The test of Christianity lies in the ability to say “I am sorry” to those against whom one sins, in addition to forgiving one’s offenders.

In forgiving, one takes full responsibility for wrongs committed by those not privileged with God’s knowledge. One empathises with people in their misdemeanours. Anyone regarded as an enemy, ought to be invited for dinner––as forgiving implies appreciating the offender’s standpoint.

“And lead us not into temptation.” God can’t lead anyone into temptation (James 1:13). Entreating God that way enables appreciating that falling into temptation is as easy as failing to prayerfully apply all affirmations in the prayer model.

These proclamations are gradient steps, one after the other. When applied, one avoids temptations that violate one’s relationship with God. It is impossible to attain perfection, without God. To reflect God’s image, humans need change—rather than petitioning God to change to meet one’s selfish desires.

The prayer is short, but not in terms of being guided through its content. One may take a full day, in a closet, meditating on its significance and taking corrective measures. But this is intended to pray without ceasing. The prayer generally upholds intelligent decisions in all endeavours, as God is intelligent––not susceptible to errors.

Another interesting, but significant, observation is that the prayer is in plural form––linking other people’s problems with oneself. Other people’s problems become one’s problems as well. Jesus demonstrated this behaviour––dying for all sinners when not a sinner Himself.

We fall into problems because of other people’s problems and receive blessings only when others are blessed. Back to our original question: How can prayer help in avoiding temptation? This prayer helps one to think like God, as temptations come when disconnected from God.

Jesus handled Satan’s temptations after fasting for forty days––also praying incessantly at Gethsemane––constantly seeking God’s will––ahead of His own (Matt 26: 39). This removes personal desires, in favour of God’s will.

Fasting enhances a prayerful attitude, as the weakened body succumbs without food. Exposure to abject poverty may strengthen one’s relationship with God. That person then realises the futility of chasing after material things.

When physically weak, one becomes spiritually strong––yet when physically secure, one’s spiritual composure relatively deteriorates. The spirit weakens when assuming safety without God. This takes place when accessing good accommodation, good insurance coverage, and good financial security, ahead of God.

It could be difficult to convince someone in abject poverty to appreciate that Godlessness also exists in wealthy Christians. A person gripped in abject poverty struggles with Godlessness, due to focus on physical concerns.

Yet, the self-sufficient ones frequently slither out of faith, due to material blessings. King Solomon drifted from Godly wisdom, after becoming materially blessed. Judging those considered rich—assumed as not caring enough—can cause failure to maintain one’s spiritual composure.

Praying without ceasing keeps the petitioner attached to Godly wisdom. This enforces constant communion with God––thinking like God on life’s decisions. Prayer needs accompaniment with passionate Bible studying.

Jesus easily handled the tempter’s schemes, because of His familiarity with scriptures (Matt. 4:4-10). His common utterance during those bouts of temptations was; “It is written,” revealing Christ’s connection with God’s word.

Prayer with regular Bible study enhances appreciation that all survival challenges have scriptural answers. Bible study enables effective appreciation of God’s will. However, Bible study, prayer and fasting, are not necessary conditions for salvation. These become enjoyable, as happens when involved in an enjoyable pastime.

Food is enjoyable, as well as nourishing the body, just as Bible studying nourishes the spirit. The time spent in Bible study is enjoyable. Rehearsal activities can be considered dreary and tiresome, yet they are favourable hobbies for successful sportsmen.

While God desires Christians to commit themselves to His will, he also provides latitude for considering their will––ahead of God’s will. It is either God’s will or one’s own. God respects people’s choices––though, obviously, grieved by choices that lead to destruction.

God’s will is supreme over scrupulous discipline in seeking to attain unconditional offers. We cannot add or subtract God’s will. What we ask, no matter how appealing, cannot change God’s will. God expects us to change, instead of us constantly imploring Him to change to suit our selfish programmes.

Of paramount importance is purely adopting the faith of Jesus, without seeking to access salvation by own standards. Unwillingness to break entrenched customs and traditions stifles God’s will––appreciated when internalising the significance of the prescribed prayer model.

The New Civilization implies reconnecting with God who created humanity in His image. This principle of reconnecting with God ratifies a New Civilization. But there is nothing new about it. Humanity was created to be in harmony with Godly principles. This was hijacked by the evil one––subjecting us to the current confusion.


End Notes

  1. Stephen Neil, Christian Faith and Other Faiths 99 Published by Oxford University Press, 1970

Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. Most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope, in a simple conversational tone.

The Print copy is now available at for $13.99

Also available as an e-copy at  for $6.99



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