When a note is struck on a tuned piano and the same note is played on a tuned violin, the sounds vibrate in unison. When God strikes the notes of His will, and my heart vibrates in unison, then I have become sensitive and in tune with the will of God.
Prayer is cooperation with God. It is learning His will and then willingly aligning my will with His. Otherwise, when I pray I will be trying to bend His will to match mine . . . usually without realizing that my will is out of tune and out of harmony with the One who orders the universe.
James bluntly describes this kind of praying. “You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” (James 4:2–3)
For many years, many of my prayers have been me telling God what to do, how to fix things, what would make me happy. Thankfully, because of the Holy Spirit, those prayers may not have been a total waste of time and effort . . .
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26–27)
I like the idea of the Spirit listening to me pray, then saying to the Father, “This is what she really means . . .” because I’ve not yet tuned my heart. However, the idea is to learn how to pray along with His will, as did the psalmist . . .
I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart. I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O Lord. I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation. (Psalm 40:8–10)
In the early days, I thought that the will of God was nebulous, real but hidden from my understanding. Then I learned there are general truths that are His will, that He wants His people filled with the Holy Spirit, for instance. Yet when I pray those general prayers, sometimes I cannot discern if they have been answered. When I read verses like the following from 1 John, I realize that God will help me know specifics concerning His will.
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. (1 John 5:13–15)
That is, since He convinces me of something as vital as having eternal life so I can live accordingly, then He can also convince me of His will in all other areas so I can pray accordingly.
Knowing His will is vital, not just realizing I cannot have my sinful and selfish ways, but that God can be glorified in my life and in my prayers. He says, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:13–14)
I suspect this will be a lesson not easily learned, one that takes the rest of my life before it all becomes clear in eternity. I also suspect that as I seek to know the will of God, He will also continue to show me areas in my life that are out of tune and in conflict with His will. So be it. The invitation to make music with Almighty God is far too amazing to pass up!