Matthew 6:9 - 13
NKJV - 9 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.
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When we pray, we are bringing requests before God. This is shown in the model prayer that Jesus taught to his disciples in Matt 6:9-13, and is also commanded by the Apostle Paul in Phil 4:6 as well as James in James 5:13-18. And yes, often our requests ARE asking God to change circumstances in our or someone else's life. These are prayers of supplication (asking or begging for something in a humble manner). And they are indeed Biblical, and both desired by, and honored by, God. A quick survey of Scripture shows that requests that we often pray for today were also prayed for and answered in Biblical times as well. - A woman praying that God would end her infertility and grant them a baby. (1 Sam 1:9-19) - A mother praying that God would save her child from current evil. (Mark 7:24-30) - A prayer for healing of a disease/malady in ourselves or others (2 Cor 12:7-10, James 5:13-15) - Praying for the release of a a Christian pastor/teacher/missionary being held in captivity. (Acts 12:5-11) - A man praying that God would not punish, but would deal mercifully with his sinful friends. (Job 42:7-9) There are of course many, many more Bible examples of praying that God would relent, or intervene, or change circumstances. Then, as now, God often answers in accordance with our supplication and we rejoice with thanksgiving and give Him praise. Also then, as now, there are times God's answer is "no" and we may feel disappointed. But we should not forget to thank Him and give Him praise during these times as well. If we examine the prayers of supplication/request in Scripture we will see - humility on the part of the requestor - seeking God from a clean and pure heart (forgive me...) - acknowledgement that God is great and can absolutely do what we ask (no doubt) - desire that God will be glorified, whether that be in the situation as-is, or in His altering the situation - recognition that we are asking for our reasons (our will) but our desire is that His will be done What is common in all those aspects, and which we must be sure to remember for ourselves, is that when we make our REQUESTS known to God in prayer, they are not DEMANDS. If we become despondent or angry or even lose faith when God doesn't answer the prayer or does not answer in the way we want, then it's a good indication that it was a demand we were making, and in our mind it was an ultimatum: Answer, or else. Sadly, such has been the case with many vocal atheists who were once professing believers in God, but lost faith when prayers were not answered. It is important to remember that we are created beings with finite lives, flawed knowledge, and limited power to effect change, while God, the creator and sustainer of all He has created, is eternal, omniscient, and omnipotent. What we think is best, may not be best. What we think we want, may indeed not be good for us. We should fervently make our requests known to God, but humbly acknowledge that what we really want - is for Him to be glorified, and His will to be done. Jesus Himself is our best example for this. When He prayed in Gethsemane that "if it be possible take this cup [of God's wrath] from me", he also prayed "yet not my will, but yours be done" (Matt 36:38-39)
I'd say, first, that we should pray (as noted in the verse from the Lord's Prayer cited in the question) with a desire that God's will be done, and with a readiness to accept His will (whatever it may be). We can express a specific request about the ordering of events, whether that would involve changes in external circumstances or within individuals (from which we should not exclude conforming ourselves to God's commandments). We should also (in my opinion) not just passively wait for God to act, but do what we can (consistent with our knowledge of Him, His attributes, and His revelation of Himself in the Bible) to carry out any actions within our power to achieve our goal, while also being sensitized to the way in which God may be communicating through events, while leaving to His working any needed changes to others that we cannot contribute to or control. We should also pray in Jesus' name (since it is only through Him that we have the ability to have access to God at all), which implies (as noted in 1 John 5:14-15) that the result of our request should be consistent with giving glory to Him, rather than merely achieving our own gratification (James 4:3).
When we pray for someone and ask God to intervene in their lives because they are starting to venture down a dangerous path are we not are asking God to violate their free will? Of course we are, and God frequently answers those prayers. For example, a number of years ago,my youngest son, after serving in the Marine Corps came home. We discovered that he was smoking cigarettes drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana, and we were not happy about it so we prayed that God would rescue him. Almost immediately we felt strongly that we should go to his apartment, throw out his druggie room mate and ask him to come home with us until we felt he could be out on his own. We drove to his apartment the next morning at 8 AM woke his roommate up and ordered him to go get breakfast because we wanted to speak to our son in private. He came home and several months later met a beautiful Christian woman, they married and he left his life of sin behind. God violated my son's will and I am glad He did!
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