Ever wish you could know God’s will for your life, right up front? No more wishing or guessing about what the Lord might want for the rest of your life? Wouldn’t it make things easier if we knew exactly what God wanted us to do? Great news! The Bible says there are ways we can discover what that is. It’s not really too complicated, and the principles about finding God’s will are something you’ve probably known most of your life. To begin, let’s talk about how we communicate with God.
Finding the Secret
Do you usually spend your prayer time asking God to help with personal needs, someone else’s health issues, or perhaps current events? Interesting, then, that when Jesus taught about prayer he started by remembering God’s authority and the proper perspective on God’s will. Maybe that’s a good place for us to start as well… “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name; your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9-10, NIV)
In the Lord’s Prayer (or the “Our Father” prayer), Jesus encouraged us to ask for God’s will to be done “on earth as it is in heaven”. What would that look like? How would your daily life be different if God’s will were fully accomplished here on earth? What is God’s will for YOUR life, and how do you know what it is?
Knowing God’s Will
Jesus says the obvious place to start is to ASK God to take control: “Father, YOUR will be done”. But making that statement is not only a request, it is a submission. It presupposes that you have placed yourself, today, in subjugation to God’s purposes and plans. “Thy will be done” is a launching pad for discovering God’s plans for you.
Here are a couple of references that provide further insight: “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:17, NIV). John says that God’s will is different than what the world desires, since worldly things will pass away. He also says that when we are doing the will of God, we are participating (now) in our eternal life. Doing God’s will enables us to experience a different quantity of life, as well as a different quality of life.
How do material things stack up against abundant, eternal life? Equating God’s will with wealth, comfort, fame, or material things is like trying to compare a fun date with an awesome fifty year marriage. They both have their relative merits, but they are far different in quantity AND quality. Where God’s will is done, John says, there is eternal life. Instead of asking for success or material blessings, wouldn’t it benefit us more to say “Thy will be done.”?
When we start by asking the Lord to exercise His will, we don’t have to agonize over what happens in the future, or which choice to make. A.W. Tozer said, “The man or woman who is wholly or joyously surrendered to Christ can’t make a wrong choice – any choice will be the right one.”
So, if I Ask for God’s Will, Will My Life Get Easier?
However, doing God’s will does not necessarily guarantee comfort or safety. It does involve achieving what God wants and receiving what He promised. Billy Graham said, “The will of God will not take us where the grace of God cannot sustain us.” Praying in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus “fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matt. 26:39, NIV). Saying, “Thy will be done” requires stepping out in faith that God’s plans and purposes are greater than ours.
Knowing God’s will is accomplished by doing God’s will. “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” (Hebrews 10:36, NIV). The reason for pursuing and doing God’s will is not to find some magic formula for successful living, but to recognize who HE is, and who we are. What gifts and abilities has He given you? What is your mission or purpose? Has God made any promises to you? “Thy will be done” places all of those things before the Father.
Becoming Part of the Family
The Bible also says that doing God’s will places us in the right relationship to our Father. “For whoever does the will of God is my brother and my sister and mother.” (Mark 3:35, NKJV) It is really stressful chasing around trying to discover God’s will. We should not become stressed with the idea of finding “God’s Will”, but we can: 1) Acknowledge it every day; 2) submit our gifts and abilities to the Lord’s plans, and 3) enjoy having an intimate relationship with the Father: rather than worrying about what to DO, we should simply FALL IN LOVE with God.
Sometimes when you think you have God’s will figured out, you get all wrapped around the thing you think He is doing, or where you think He might be taking you. Instead, just focus on HIM–walking with Him, enjoying His presence, and immersing yourself in his love. I think the rest will sort itself out. God sees all ends and has your best interests at heart, and will ultimately bring all things into alignment with the good pleasure of His will.
Paul says, “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.” (Ephesians 1:11) What if we prayed every day, “Your will be done today, Father. Not as I will, but as YOU will”? I bet we would “receive what He has promised.”
Whose Will Is It Today?
Trade the thrills and pocket-fills, and cease the petty game of wills.
Embrace the Father like the Son. Pray: “Not my will, but Thine be done.”
Don’t limit prayer to your requests! The kind of prayer that works the best
Is asking God to do His will. He did it then. He does it still.
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