5 Ways to Respond When God Asks us to Do Something we Don’t Want to Do

5 Ways to Respond When God Asks us to Do Something we Don’t Want to Do July 9, 2023

Recently, I wrote a post on why God might ask us to do something we don’t want to do. After all, our desires are important to God and even play a key role in discernment. But the truth of the matter is that our desires are not the most primordial thing in life and God sometimes asks us to give them. In a society where we are unlikely to be subjected to martyrdom in its strictest sense, giving up your desires is a type of smaller dying to self.

Today, let’s take a look at what to do when God asks us to do something we don’t want to do.

1. Ask God to Wait

We are often told to be patient and wait on God’s timing. But we can also ask God to wait on us. God is patient and completely respects our free will. If His request feels like too much or too soon, we can ask him to step back. Not yet! If you ask him to, God will step back and wait until you are ready (most of the time).

Perhaps this sounds like a refusal of God’s will. However, God is more gentle and patient with our hearts than we ourselves are. Perhaps he has asked something of you early so that you have a chance to grow. And don’t worry about messing up God’s plan. It’s impossible. Through God’s permissive will (the will that allows for our mistakes and refusals), God can work it out.

I once heard God’s permissive will described as this: God is an orchestra conductor and has written a beautiful symphony. The musicians, however, are not skilled enough to perform the symphony. However, the conductors is able to work with their skill and make adjustments to create a performance even more beautiful than the original work.

Be sure you’re asking God for the right type of waiting! There’s a difference between, please wait while I take some time of prayer and preparation and please wait perpetually, because I don’t want to ever be ready. Your request to wait should not be avoidance or disobedience, rather it should be preparation.

2. Fast

If God has asked you to do something you don’t want to do, then a time of fasting and prayer is necessary. Fasting is essential to the Christian life. We see it’s importance in the Old and New Testaments (Moses fasting before receiving the commandments, Ninevah fasting in response to Job’s message, Jesus fasting before the Crucifixion).

Fasting is depriving ourselves of a good in order to open our hearts to a greater good. It develops self-mastery and humbles the flesh. It allows us to “acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of the heart” (CCC 2043)

The Church requires us to fast during Lent and every Friday (CCC 1438), but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fast at other times! In response to God’s call to sacrifice something, we can prepare ourselves by fasting. By giving up a small good such as chocolate, we prepare ourselves to give up even larger goods such as a career path. Fasting frees us from attachment to the material world and allows us to long for things of the kingdom of Heaven.

Jesus himself fasted before his Passion. He went into the desert for 40 days and nights. This gave him the strength to go through with the most difficult thing any human has ever gone through.

3. Pray for another way

If you’ve taken a time of preparation and fasting but God’s request still feels like too much, then you can pray for another way. Jesus himself says this prayer, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done” (Lk 22:42).

We are God’s children and he listens to our hearts. If you don’t want to do something, ask him if it’s possible to avoid it. But here’s the key, obedience and trust must be at the heart of your prayer. Jesus begins and ends his prayer with obedience: If you are willing…not my will but yours.

4. Seek Advice and Confide in Someone

God has asked you to do something you don’t want to do. That doesn’t mean he wants you to figure this out alone! You’re probably reeling emotionally. Confusion, fear, denial, maybe excitement are all roiling together. It is at times like this that we need to rely on trusted friends and mentors.

You might be surprised at their insight. This person might point out a part of your heart that actually wants to follow this path, a part of your heart that has been obscured by fear.

Make sure you’re choosing someone trustworthy and wise. You can confide in non-Catholic mentors (I have many times and I’m grateful for it).

5. Obey

Once you’ve prayed, fasted, and sought advice, there’s nothing left to do but to obey. Though it might be painful, we are called to maintain a spirit of trust. God desires our happiness more than we desire our own happiness. Let us echo Mary’s fiat,

“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38).


God’s call for us to sacrifice our desires can be a scary thing. In fact, it’s a form of martyrdom, of dying to self.



Fun fact about Mariel, the Catholic Bird Lover: I have been known to keep pet rocks.

For more from Mariel, follow her on instagram @birdloversmusings

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