The following is a note from The Dake Annotated Reference Bible:
It is sinful to pray, “If it be thy will” concerning anything that God has promised to men. This kind of praying is a prayer of unbelief and it will never be answered. It does not take God at His Word. It does not believe that God means what He says. It calls Him into question concerning the things He has many times assured all men that they can have if they will only have faith. Thus one should never pray such prayers as: “If it be thy will, save this man and forgive him of his sins,” “If it be thy will, heal this man and make him well,” “If it be thy will, supply my needs and make me a success in business,” or “If it be thy will, please give me what you have promised.” In fact, this phrase, “if it be thy will” should never be used in ordinary praying for any good thing in life for which God has already made a promise.
The only time such a prayer should be prayed is when we make plans to go to such and such a city, to buy and sell to get gain, or to do this or that, that is not definitely promised in any part of the Word of God (James 4:13-17). In such matters, it is proper to get the will of God before acting and never act until God’s will is made clear. Never go to God as if you are afraid, and as if you expected Him to upbraid you. He does not do this (James 1:4-8).
Learn from the Bible and in prayer what the will of God is about those personal plans in life that are not mentioned in particular in any Scripture, and then do the will of God. Do not pray to change God or to get Him to agree with your plans, but pray until you are changed and willing to conform to God’s plan for you. In other words, learn what God has promised in His Word and never pray, “If it be thy will” concerning these facts. Pray to know the will of God concerning all other matters and all prayers can be prayed in faith and confidence as to the answer.
Copyright 2000 (c) by Finis Dake. All rights reserved.
Brilliant! Must get hold of a Dake’s study bible!
Tony – Yes they are excellent. Rex
I can agree with the main point that Finis Dake is trying to drive home: in fact, I do this “if it be thy will” stuff all too much. But there are a couple of issues I’d like to raise:
First, the style of the article could use a bit of tweaking. Starting off with “what you’re doing is evil and counterproductive” kind of message before offering supporting arguments may not be effective for many readers. It may help to move the punchline to after a couple of supporting arguments are presented. Or it could instead be rephrased as a question: “Do you often begin your prayers with ‘if it be thy will’ even though there are clear promises in the Bible for you?” and then answer the question with your supporting arguments. That might be a more effective lead-in to get the reader hooked, so that they won’t have an instant “what you’re doing is sinning!” at the beginning that would turn most readers off.
And while on this topic, the overall tone of the article sounds a bit harsh. While that may be necessary to get people to stop being indifferent about the issue, at hand, it comes across as having yet another religious formula rule dumped in their lap. I’d figure people resort to using ‘if it be thy will’ in their prayers after having a string of unanswered prayer, and having gone through situations where God’s promises don’t work at all. Instead of cracking the “throw your faith into it!” whip on people who are discouraged to the point of giving up on praying entirely, try using a positive approach that offers encouragement on the way to answered prayer.
But these are merely minor writing style suggestions. If Finis Dake’s intended audience was not the wounded, struggling Christian, but rather the indifferent, slacking Christian, then yes, this article’s tone makes a great deal of sense.
Second, there seems to be an exception to Dake’s assertion that it is sinful to use the phrase ‘if it be thy will’ in a prayer concerning a clear Bible promise. In fact, I’m surprised Dake does not address it in this article. It is Jesus’ own prayer in the garden of Gethsemane in Luke 22:42 (Authorized KJV) “Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”
Jesus was no doubt very clearly aware of the very many prophecies concerning Himself, which include His suffering, which had to take place if the prophecies were to be fulfilled. Furthermore, Jesus knew ahead of time, before even going to the garden, that His suffering had to happen, as spelled out during the Last Supper earlier in Luke chapter 22. Jesus had already prophesied at the Last Supper that He wouldn’t eat or drink again until He died and was resurrected. (Luke 22:15-18)
Therefore God’s will in the matter was crystal clear at the time Jesus prayed ‘if it be thy will’ when Jesus knew the cup was not to pass from Him.
Logically speaking, either Jesus sinned by using this phrase in His prayer despite knowing God’s will and promises clearly, or it’s not necessarily a sin unto itself to use the phrase in prayer.
But this doesn’t mean I disagree with Dake’s intention here. Dake’s point was not merely about a formula of words in prayer, but about the disbelief in the one praying. I agree with Dake on this point because most people (including myself) using the phrase ‘if it be thy will’ are indeed praying without faith.
I bring up this example with the intent that Finis Dake can address it so that the sweeping assertion of “it’s sinful to pray ‘if it be thy will'” could be more accurately qualified.
But besides these minor complaints, Finis Dake makes an excellent observation on prayer practices that we would do well to heed.
Dustin – Thanks for your comments. The tone is hard. That is Dake; he is a black/white kind of guy.
As to Jesus’s of the term in the Garden: He knew it was the will of God for Him to go to and through the work of the Cross. But everything within Him recoiled at the thought of being cut off from the Father (and of course terribly tortured and killed). He was seeking God for a way out, but always deferring to the will and desires of His Father. So, if you ever have to go through something terrible, you have every right, and His example, to seek God on an alternate route. Usually there is not.
The important thing is He NEVER EVER used the phase at any other time. Especially, concerning healing and God’s miraculous power. That is time and place that most people use it. Do a search on the term. We have several other articles on the subject. God bless you. Rex
I have two Dake Bibles and several of his other works. I like his format of research reflected in his Bible . He covers some very interesting topics that are rare to find in other Bibles.
I believe this is true. It has taken me years to begin to learn this truth and I don’t know why. It is not because God is not good. It is not because He doesn’t want me to know His truths. Right now, in my Christian walk, I am becoming aware of God speaking to my heart. His words are becoming “real” to me. Faith is the common denominator in all our steps in Christ. I am learning that it is truly necessary to know the word of God, to know His promises, His provisions, to meditate on them and to make them mine – to step out in faith and receive them. Simply speaking His word does not make it come to pass. It’s the Word I know and speak that will come to pass – His provision has already been made for me. It’s not me saying it that makes it so but me believing that it is already done, for me, that makes it so (I’m still wrapping my head around these truths). I am blessed by your website. I have been following your site for approximately 1 yr. (or so), Rex. I have read, meditated on and studied many of your printings. Thank you for this wonderful “heart” teaching material. If I could only put into words what God, through the Holy Spirit, has spoken to my heart, I could better bless your endeavors and your faithfulness to Him. I thank Him for you and your site often. I bless you and bring your name before Him in thankfulness for your site and materials. I thank Him for you and ask Him to bless and give you direction to your inner man to honor Him. I know your heart and that is why I can write to you in this fashion! Thank you for coming back on board again as I had missed your presence.
My brotherly love to you my friend.
Andrew – Thank you. You are such a blessing. I am sorry that this comment was flagged by the system and not approved. I saw it and immediately did. God bless you and keep putting the word inside of you. IT is the answer. Thanks again, Rex