Want to Discover God’s Will? Then Here’s What to Do:

Finding the Secret

Ever wish you knew up front what God’s will is going to be for the rest of your life? Wouldn’t it make things easier if we knew exactly what God wanted us to do? The Bible says there are ways we can discover what that is. One of those ways is found in how we communicate with God.

Do you usually spend your prayer time asking God to help with someone else’s health issues or perhaps current events? Interesting, then, that when Jesus taught about prayer he began by talking more about God’s authority and 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)

Knowing God’s Will

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?

The obvious place to start is to ASK for it: “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 some 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, that they will pass away.

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, isn’t it easier to say “Thy will be done.”?

God's will

So, if I Ask for God’s Will, Will My Life Get Easier?

Doing God’s will does not necessarily guarantee comfort or safety. It does involve achieving what God wants and receiving what He promised. 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 should 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: 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 just pray for 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.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Prayer the Way It Should Be: Change Your Life by Prayer

Prayer is something which probably all of us have done with different feelings and results. Is there a right way to pray? Jesus was asked that question by his disciples, and here’s what he said: “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 pray 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? Here are a couple of references that provide some insight: “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:17, NIV)

A Bold Request

John says that God’s will is different than what the world desires. How do material things stack up against abundant, eternal life? I think it’s safe to safe that anyone who equates God’s will with wealth, comfort, fame, or material things is trying to compare apples with oranges. Where God’s will is done, John says, there is eternal life.

prayer

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). Doing God’s will does not guarantee comfort or safety. It does involve achieving what God wants and receiving what He promised. “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).

How Do You Find God’s Will?

The reason for pursuing and doing God’s will is not to find some magic formula for successful living, but to put yourself in right relationship to your 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 after God’s will. We should not become enamored with the idea of finding “God’s Will”. 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, when you pray, just focus on HIM–walking with Him, enjoying His presence, and immersing yourself in his love. I think the rest will sort itself out.

Prayer should be like that; put aside the petitions every now and then and just spend time with the Father.

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.” And no matter the circumstances, we’d have a nice day.

Game Changer

Ignore the lies the world instills:
Trade the thrills and pocket-fills,
and cease the petty game of wills.
Take this challenge, if you dare
And step into the world of prayer!
Connect with the Divine and find that your requests will realign:
Jesus in Gethsemane took time to pray for you and me;
But really, what he did was pray
That God the Father have His way.
It's something we can do, today...

Embrace the Father like the Son.
Pray: “Not my will, but Thine be done.”

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

The Prayer of Jabez is Good. Here’s One I Like Even Better!

Do you remember The Prayer of Jabez,  the best-selling book from a few years ago? It had wide circulation among evangelicals, and it certainly stimulated some thoughts about praying for results. Let’s take another look at the man made famous for his prayer:

A Famous Prayer?

“Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.” (1 Chronicles 4:9-10, NIV).

This little passage was the subject of Bruce Wilkinson’s book, “The Prayer of Jabez, Breaking Through to a Blessed Life”, back in 2000. Mr. Wilkinson’s work was embraced by many who agreed with him that praying this prayer devotedly and persistently would result in God’s blessings. Others criticized it because they said it focused on prosperity rather than on spiritual blessing, and prescribed rote, formulaic prayer rather than sincere, heart-felt prayer. Whatever your take on it, it is a well-written book that was quite popular, and got folks talking about the power of prayer.

Jabez

Valuable Lessons

The book does a great job of encouraging us to be persistent in prayer and to claim Bible promises for our own, just as Jabez did in 1 Chronicles 4. Mr. Wilkinson did a great job sharing the story of Jabez and drawing some Biblical principles from it. I’ve given it some reflection as well, and here are my own observations about this passage:

1) Jabez is a sincere and honorable man, and he turns to God for blessing. I’d have to say that if everyone we met was sincere and honorable, the world would be a better place. But apparently then—as now—being honorable was the exception rather than the rule. Be the exception.

2) Jabez seemed to be motivated by the fact that his name meant “he makes sorrowful”, apparently or possibly because of the pain he caused his mother in childbirth. He didn’t name himself, but as he grew up he was constantly reminded that he had once been the source of pain…

Parents, be careful what hurtful things you say to your kids, because there are things that stick with them. (I can remember some that were said to me, and I know there are lots of dumb or angry things I have said to my kids or my wife that I wish I could have back! I’m very sorry guys, if anything I said gave you a negative message or memory. I really do love you a lot with my imperfect love!).

The Fine Print

3) This isn’t necessarily a bad prayer, since Jabez asks for God’s hand to be on him, and to keep him from evil so that he would not cause (or have) pain. “And”, the Bible says, “God granted his request”. So there’s that. It’s a prayer that identified Jabez uniquely among his peers, and God answered it. It’s a good prayer, and probably one that all of us would make from time to time…

But when you break it down and look closer, the prayer of Jabez does seem perhaps a bit self-serving, and might just be a bit focused on personal benefit. (Bless ME. Keep your hand on MY territory. Let your hand be with ME. Keep ME from harm. Keep ME free from pain.) These are all legitimate requests to make of God, but there’s a different prayer in the Bible that also asks God for something about ME, and it’s one I can relate to far better.

If I had to pick a Bible prayer that we should pray early and often, it’s not the one prayed by the arrogant Pharisee who stood in the Temple in Luke 18 and thanked God that he was more righteous than his fellow men; it’s the sincere, passionate one prayed by the humble, repentant tax collector as he beat his breast in anguish in Luke 18:13: “God, have mercy on me, a sinner!”

Now, THERE’s a prayer worth repeating! (And one that I can certainly relate to!) “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” Try praying that one. I bet it will enlarge your territory.

My Own Personal Jabez Prayer

Jabez was an honest man who went to God and prayed,
He asked for God’s protection in the petitions that he made.
Apparently he was honorable; and he was surely blessed.
The Bible says when Jabez prayed, God granted his request.
I guess I’m not like Jabez, since my prayer life is much thinner;
I’m much more like the man who said, “Be merciful to this sinner!”
You may have a different prayer you think of when you pray,
But when you kneel before your God, and find the words to say,
I hope you pray with love and passion every single day.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Change Your Prayer Life from Perfunctory to Passionate. Start Here:

A Place to Start

Have you thought about your prayer time lately? How would you rate your communication with the Almighty? Do you recite prayers you’ve known for years, or do you perhaps merely out of habit, say, at mealtimes? Would you say your prayer life is lacking power and passion? Maybe it’s time to escape from Perfunctory Prayer… David’s expression of love for his Creator might be a good place to start:

“In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice; in the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.” (Psalms 5:3 NASB) David didn’t just pray, he seemed to have a deep, abiding love for his Creator that he could not contain. He wrote poetry to God. He sang love songs to the Lord. David begged for help and asked for protection. He expressed his longing and hunger for his Creator. If you would like a deeper prayer life, there are some clues about how to accomplish that in this short verse.

Clues We Can Use

First of all, David prayed a LOT. He prayed at night, during the day, and here he prayed in the morning to start each day. Perhaps that offers us a template. It doesn’t say he prayed long, exhausting prayers; it doesn’t say that he prayed ornate, flowery prayers; but he did pray OFTEN. Do you spend some time talking with God every day? Does it come first? Do you wake up with a need to worship and adore the Lord and talk to Him about your day? David did.

I heard it said that the only time we truly experience eternal life on this earth is when we are engaged in prayer. When we talk with God, we have for that time set aside the everyday world to communicate directly with Him. If you consider what is happening when we commune with our Father in prayer, it means that we are that moment transported into His presence, and we have transcended our finite limitations to be intimate with our Creator. We may not get to see heaven in this world, but as David pointed out, we can make a verbal visit anytime we want to.

nightly prayer

Is It ACTS or CATS?

Second, he ordered his prayer. If you read some of them in the Psalms, David’s prayers consistently included Confession, Adoration, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. Just remember CATS if you want a quick template for diving a bit deeper into your conversations with God. (Some folks use ACTS, but I like putting confession first.) Taking even this simple approach to prayer will provide structure and focus to your prayer life without turning it into perfunctory repetition of something you learned

Remember who we are by coming to Him confessed and penitent; offer adoration for who He is and reflect upon His majesty and power; Thank Him for all He has done; and offer prayers for those people or circumstances where you desire His help. This simple outline is not magic but I have found it helps me stay focused when I’m making a verbal visit to heaven.

Expect More

Finally, after David prayed he eagerly watched. He prayed with expectation, and then like a kid at Christmas, he couldn’t wait to see what would happen. I guess he expected God was going to do something in response to his prayer. Do you pray to God with the confident expectation that He will respond? How often does your time with the Lord include the “eagerly watching” time? Mine usually doesn’t. Perhaps there’s more to prayer than just throwing it out there and moving on…

A Praying Man’s Lament

Save me, Lord, from perfunctory prayer.
Help me connect, and help me care.
Keep me from saying a nondescript grace
When I come to give thanks to you, face to Face.
Hear me, Lord as I start each day,
And give me transparency when I pray.
Order my prayer around spiritual need,
And help me, Father, to intercede.
Give me the passion that David had!
Teach me to pray with a heart that’s glad.
Take my prayer life up a notch.
I want to pray and then eagerly watch!
Help me to make you my everyday choice.
Fill my heart, and hear my voice.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread