Hi. I found this question really interesting. I was actually praying the Fatima Prayer in the Rosary this morning when I thought of this thread again and a few thoughts hit me.
- As a few posters have already pointed out, we know that it is God’s will that all people will accept His salvation. If we look at 1 Timothy 2:1-4, it says:
“First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
The Fatima Prayer seems to go right along with this to me. What can be wrong for praying what we know is the will of God? We should be praying that for God’s will.
- I’m not saying this is easy for me to understand, but certain scriptures seem to indicate pretty clearly that while it is certainly wrong to pray against the will of God, it is not wrong to request mercy or deliverance if He has predicted something bad will happen (especially if that bad thing is against His will, such as people rejecting Him and going to hell). I do not think this makes God wrong if He chooses to answer those prayers. If we look at the Gospels, we see an interesting illustration of this. First Christ predicts His death. Matthew 16:21states:
“From this time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.”
Then we have Peter defying God’s plan in verses 22-23.
“Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘God forbit it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.’ But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.’”
Then we in Matthew 26:39, we have Jesus asking God for deliverance from the death that He predicted for Himself earlier.
"And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”
Unlike Peter, Jesus is not rejecting God’s will, but He is asking for deliverance while remaining in total submission to God’s will. It was certainly not wrong for Him to ask this. It shows us the agony He went through on our behalf.
I am also reminded of Jesus’s prediction of Peter’s betrayal. While He predicted it, He did not will Peter to deny Him. In fact in the Garden of Gethsemane, he orders Peter, James, and John to pray that they may not enter into temptation. While, Peter ended up falling asleep out of grief, it certainly would not have been wrong for him to pray to be spared from temptation and not to deny Christ.
However, I think the most interesting passage I think has a bearing on this situation is one of King Hezekiah in 2 Kings, where God has the prophet Isaiah tell Hezekiah he will die, and then Hezekiah begs for mercy, and God saves him. The story is in 2 Kings 20:1-6.
“In those days Hezekiah became mortally ill. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.”’ Then he turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, saying, ‘Remember now, O Lord, I beseech You, how I have walked before You in truth and with a whole heart and have done what is good in Your sight.’ And Hezekiah wept bitterly. Before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, ‘Return and say to Hezekial the leader of My people, “Thus says the Lord, the God of your father David, ‘I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord. I will add fifteen years to your life, and I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for My own sake and for My servant David’s sake.’”’”
I don’t think the fact that God told Hezekiah he was about to die and then decided to grant his request to live makes Him a liar or casts doubt on His omniscience. Hezekiah was going to die at the time his death was predicted to him.
In the end, I think it’s a great mystery, how the sovereignty of God interacts with the will of man. While we may not understand it perfectly, we trust God in His wisdom and goodness, and we pray for His will to be done, (We are commanded to in the Lord’s Prayer!) While Jesus predicts that some will reject Him and not inherit eternal life, we know that His will is that none reject Him. Therefore I think it is of greatest importance that we pray His will be done in all souls being led to heaven. We can trust the details of how it all works out to God.