Now, the whole thought in prayer is to get the will of a God like that done in our lives and upon this old earth. The greatest prayer any one can offer is, |Thy will be done.| It will be offered in a thousand different forms, with a thousand details, as needs arise daily. But every true prayer comes under those four words. There is not a good desirable thing that you have thought of that He has not thought of first, and probably with an added touch not in your thought. Not to grit your teeth and lock your jaw and pray for grace to say, |Thy will be endured
: it is bitter, but I must be resigned; that is a Christian grace; Thy will be endured
.| Not that, please. Do not slander God like that. There is a superficial idea among men that charges God with many misfortunes and ills for which He is not at all responsible. He is continually doing the very best that can be done under the circumstances for the best results. He has a bad mixture of stubborn warped human wills to deal with. With infinite patience and skill and diplomacy and success too He is ever working at the tangled skein of human life, through the human will.
It may help us here to remember that God has a first and a second will for us: a first choice and a second. He always prefers that His first will shall be accomplished in us. But where we will not be wooed up to that height, He comes down to the highest level we will come up to, and works with us there. For instance, God's first choice for Israel was that He Himself should be their king. There was to be no human, visible king, as with the surrounding nations. He was to be their king. They were to be peculiar in this. But to Samuel's sorrow and yet more to God's, they insisted upon a king. And so God gave them a king. And David the great shepherd-psalmist-king was a man after God's own heart, and the world's Saviour came of the Davidic line. God did His best upon the level they chose and a great best it was. Yet the human king and line of kings was not God's first will, but a second will yielded to because the first would not be accepted. God is ever doing the best for human lives that can be done through the human will.
His first will for our bodies, without doubt, is that there should be a strong healthy body for each of us. But there is a far higher thing being aimed at in us than that. And with keen pain to His own heart, He oft times permits bodily weakness and suffering because in the conditions of our wills only so can these higher and highest things be gotten at. And where the human will comes into intelligent touch with Himself, and the higher can so be reached, with great gladness and eagerness the bodily difficulty is removed by Him.
There are two things, at least, that modify God's first will for us. First of all the degree of our intelligent willingness that He shall have His full sway. And second, the circumstances of one's life. Each of us is the centre of a circle of people, an ever changing circle. If we be in touch with Him God is speaking through each of us to his circle. Our experiences with God: His dealings with us, under the varying circumstances are a part of His message to that circle. God is trying to win men. It takes marvellous diplomacy on His part. And God is a wondrous tactician. But -- very reverently -- He is a needy God. He needs us to help Him, each in his circle. We must be perfectly willing to have His will done; and more, we must trust Him to know what is best to do in us and with us in the circle of our circumstances. God is a great economist. He wastes no forces. Every bit is being conserved towards the great end in view.
There may be a false submission to His supposed will in some affliction; a not reaching out after all that He has for us. And at the other swing of the pendulum there may be a sort of logical praying for some desirable thing because a friend tells us we should claim it. By logical praying I mean the studying of a statement of God's word, and possibly some one's explanation of it, and hearing or knowing how somebody else has claimed a certain thing through that statement and then concluding that therefore we should so claim. The trouble with that is that it stops too soon. Praying in the Spirit as opposed to logical praying is doing this logical thinking: then quietly taking all to God, to learn what His will is for you, under your circumstances, and in the circle of people whom He touches through you.