No one should think that he has the liberty to come before the God of heaven, ask for anything he wants, and leave it to God to determine whether that thing is according to His will. No one should be deceived into thinking that any prayer that is not according to His will is just set aside by the Lord, and that all such a person suffers is the fact that he has wasted time. Prayer is a more serious thing than that. Human words do not go to God without producing effect or without having consequence.
When a person prays according to God’s will, the Lord rejoices and responds for the blessing of the person who prayed.
The Bible says, “And this is the confidence that we have in 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 obtained the requests made of him” (1 John 5:14-15). Believers ought to always labour to pray according to God’s will.
When a person prays ignorantly outside God’s will, the Lord forgives him and no harm may come to him, for his prayer. However, the person who prays ignorantly outside God’s will where the ignorance is the fruit of laziness in seeking God’s will with the whole heart, there is some harm that the person suffers for failure to know God’s will because of laziness.
When a person knows that a certain thing is not God’s will but decides to desire it and to ask for it in prayer, the Lord will let him have what he has asked for to his immediate or long term undoing.
What Happens to Prayer That is Outside the Will of God
Let us look at two examples of such prayers from the Word of God.
The Rabble in the Wilderness
The Bible says, “A mixed multitude also went up with them, and very many cattle, and both flocks and herds” (Exodus 12:38). “Now the rabble (mixed multitude) that was among them had a strong craving; and the people of Israel also wept again, and said, ”O that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt for nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions and the garlic; but now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at” (Numbers 11:4-6). “Moses heard the people weeping throughout their families, every man at the door of his tent, and the anger of the Lord blazed hotly, and Moses was displeased” (Numbers 11:10). And the Lord said to Moses, “Say to the people, Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat; for you have wept in the hearing of the Lord, saying, “Who will give us meat to eat? For it was well with us in Egypt.” Therefore, the Lord will give you meat, and you shall eat. You shall not eat one day, or two days, or five days, or ten days, or twenty days, but a whole month, until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you, because you have rejected the Lord who is amongst you, and have wept before him, saying, “Why did we come forth out of Egypt?” (Numbers 11:18-20).
And there went forth a wind from the Lord, and it brought quails from the sea, and let them fall besides the camp, about a day’s journey on this side and a day’s journey on the other side, round about the camp, and about two cubits above the face of the earth. And the people rose all that day, and all night, and all the next day, and gathered the quails; he who gathered least gathered ten homers; and thy spread them out for themselves all around the camp. While the meat was yet between their teeth, before it was consumed, the anger of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord smote the people with a very great plague. Therefore, the name of that place was called Kibroth Hattaavah because there they buried the people who had the craving” (Numbers 11:31-34).
“They had a wanton craving in the wilderness, and put God to the test in the desert; he gave them what they asked, but sent a wasting disease among them” (Psalm 106:14-15).
They desired meat even though they did not need it. They cried for meat and despised the manna which the Lord had provided for them and which satisfied their need but not their lust. They moved on the plane of lust, of covetousness, of desires that were rooted in self and not in need or in the Lord. The Lord was offended, gave them what they asked for plus a deadly bonus – the plague.
There are many today who are like the rabble in the wilderness. They are in the Church but their hearts have not been circumcised from a love of the world and a love for the things of the world. They crave after one worldly thing or the other and after one worldly position and then another. The Lord looks at such hearts and sometimes gives them what they desire plus leanness of soul. At other times he is offended and gives them leanness of soul without even letting them have what they desire.
Each person must examine the desires of his heart and see if they are also the desires of the heart of God. When a person finds that there are desires in his heart that do not correspond to the desires on God’s heart, he should repent of them immediately and be cleansed of them. It is not enough to say that they are only desires and not prayers. There is a sense in which the desires of the hearts of men flow to God as prayer even without the person consciously asking. There is a sense in which all desires are prayers for all that is on the heart is before God. He sees it and acts accordingly. Purity of desire and conformity of desire to the will of God is indispensable to spiritual health. May God’s children take note. May they settle it once and for ever that they will not permit anything which they know for certain not to be the will of God to last another second in their hearts. May they be merciful and correct other members of the body who are asking in dangerous ignorance! Praise the Lord!