Why do born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ experience many of the difficult, painful, and bewildering things encountered along the path of righteousness? One answer is that at some point in our Christian life, we have prayed the wrong prayer, perhaps along these lines:
"Heavenly Father, I acknowledge that I belong to You for Your glory, Your will, and Your eternal purpose in Christ. You have bought me with a price, the precious blood of the Lord Jesus, and I devote myself and my entire being to You for Your purposes. Have Your own way in me, Father."
In real terms, this is actually the right prayer. "Yield yourselves unto God as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God" (Romans 6:13). We exist for the glory, will, and purposes of the Lord who has redeemed us at the highest cost imaginable. It is our "reasonable service" to consecrate ourselves completely to Him, and such a prayer of devotion is the expression of our heart's acknowledgement that we belong to the Lord Jesus (Romans 12;1-2).
It is the wrong prayer, however, if we desire a life of ease and comfort. In a world that "lieth in wickedness," there is no possibility of richly fulfilling the glory, will, and purposes of God apart from much difficulty. Our spiritual enemies will see to that, as the world, the devil, and the flesh (including our own) challenge our consecration in every way possible. More importantly, our Heavenly Father Himself must orchestrate and allow our challenges because conformity to the image of the Lord Jesus is His ultimate purpose in our lives (Romans 8:29). Our Savior was a "man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief" (Isaiah 53:3). By definition, being like Him requires our walking the path He walked, and in varying modes and measures, all devoted believers will share in "the fellowship of His sufferings" (Philippians 3:10).
Again, the wrong prayer is actually the right prayer, the most right of all prayers. But it may sometimes feel as if we made a mistake by placing our being completely in the hands of God. We didn't, however, and the days and the eternity to come will reveal that the only safe harbor for our hearts is found in the prayer of loving consecration, "Not My will, but Thine be done" (Luke 22:42). Our Lord Himself prayed this prayer, and it led to a cross. But it also led to an empty tomb, and a throne of glory. The same will be true in our lives, and in those times when we can't understand our trials, "the wrong prayer" - the right prayer - may well be the reason for them.
"For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake."