Jesus, of course, made the same request three times in a row when He was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane (see Matt. 26:39-44). But keep in mind that He was not praying in faith according to God’s revealed will. In fact, as He prayed three times for any possible escape from the cross, He knew that His request was contrary to God’s will. That is why He three times submitted Himself to His Father’s will in the same prayer.
That same prayer of Jesus is often wrongly used as a model for all prayer, as some teach that we should always end every prayer with the words, “If it by Thy will,” or “Nevertheless not My will but Thy will be done,” following Jesus’ example.
Again, we must remember that Jesus was making a request that He knew was not God’s will. To follow His example when we are praying according to God’s will would be a mistake and display a lack of faith. To pray, for example, “Lord, I confess my sin to you and ask you to forgive me if it be Thy will,” would imply that it may not be God’s will to forgive my sin. We know, of course, that the Bible promises that God will forgive us when we confess our sins (see 1 John 1:9). Thus such a prayer would reveal one’s lack of faith in God’s revealed will.
Jesus didn’t end every prayer with the words, “Nevertheless not My will, but Thy will done.” There is only one example of Him praying in that manner, and it was when He was committing Himself to do His Father’s will, knowing the suffering He would endure because of it.
On the other hand, if we don’t know God’s will in a certain situation because He has not revealed it, then it is appropriate to end our prayer with the words, “If it be Thy will.” James wrote,
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow, we shall go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil (Jas. 4:13-16).
What should we do once we’ve made our requests based on a promise from God and are meeting all the conditions? We should continually thank God for the answer that we have believed we have received until it actually comes to pass. It is through faith and patience that we inherit the promises of God (Heb. 6:12). Satan will surely try to defeat us by sending doubts, and we must realize that our mind is the battleground. When thoughts of doubt attack our minds, we simply need to replace those thoughts with thoughts based on God’s promises and speak the Word of God in faith. As we do, Satan must flee (see Jas. 4:7; 1 Pet. 5:8-9).