42saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42)
Jesus knew it was the Father’s will for Him to be made an offering for the sins of the world. He had prophesied His own death and resurrection many times. But because of His unique relationship with God, Jesus asked Him to accomplish His will some other way. At the same time, He affirmed His commitment to do His Father’s will and not His own.
Jesus knew God’s will and left this time of prayer trusting that whatever the Father deemed best for Him would happen. He knew when He began praying what the Father’s will was, and He knew at the close of His prayer that God’s will could not be accomplished any other way.
For us to pray, “Lord, if it be thy will” in response to a promise God has given us is nothing but unbelief and is not even remotely related to what Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane. One of the foundational principles of answered prayer is that we must believe that we receive when we pray (Mark 11:24). There is no way we can fulfill that condition if we don’t know God’s will in that situation. Praying, “if it be thy will” takes us out of the active position of believing and puts us in the passive position of waiting and letting circumstances rule our lives.
If you are seeking direction in an area where God’s will is not already expressed in His Word, then you should pray James 1:5 and ask for wisdom. You should not be ignorant but understand what the will of the Lord is (Eph. 5:17). The only appropriate time to pray, “if it be thy will,” is when you are dedicating yourself to the service of God.