Thursday, January 11, 2018

Tips On Praying According To The Will Of God

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Matthew 6:10 ‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven."


There is only one subject Jesus' disciples requested him to teach: prayer. Think about all of the lessons they could had requested: "Lord, teach us three steps to casting out a demon" or "Lord, show us how to find a coin in a fish's mouth" (see miracle in Matthew 17:27). As Jesus taught them this model prayer (found in Matthew 6 and Luke 11), the one trait of effective prayer taught by Jesus had to do with praying by the will of God. 

What is God's will, why it matters in prayer

God’s will is His divine intention by which He plans and executes. God achieves the general and specific ends of His will through the means of creatures, events and prayer. Prayer is included by God in His will. The will of God acts as the rudder of prayer. Jesus urges us to pray according to the will of God. As the late Dr. Adrian Rogers notes in his book: "What Every Christian Ought To Know":

"Let's think about the will of God for your life. Your great desire ought to be to know the will of God. Your great delight will be to do His will. Your great danger is to refuse His will. Nothing is right for you if it is not His will."

Let’s note some important distinctions of God’s will that can aid us to greater effectiveness in prayer. 

1. God's Ultimate Will. 

For starters, whenever we contemplate Jesus' instructions on "thy will be done" in Matthew 6:10, this deals with God's ultimate or Sovereign will. I picture God's overall, ultimate will like an umbrella. All things in heaven and on earth unfold under His overall purposes and plans. Great passages such as Psalm 115:3; Daniel 4:35; Romans 11:36 and Ephesians 1:11 define this all surpassing, all encompassing breadth, depth and height of God's will. We could say that God's ultimate will includes and upholds prayer.

2. God's Unrevealed will

So what then lies underneath the "umbrella" of God's ultimate will? Passages such as Deuteronomy 29:29; Matt. 24:36; Mark 6:48; Phil. 4:6-7 describe what is called "God's unrevealed will". God's unrevealed will is simply what God has not made known, and which is known only to Himself. This is where I learn to trust God. In prayer, I realize that I don't know everything, which is why one comes to God in the first place.

3. God's permissive will

The next division subsumed under God's ultimate will is what theologians call God's "permissive will". Passages such as Genesis 50:20; Deuteronomy 8:15-17; Acts 14:16; James 4:15 feature God's will of permission. Dr. Adrian Rogers describes God's permissive will accordingly:

"God in His sovereignty has granted to man a free will that he may disobey God". 

The permission of God in matters pertaining to free moral agents isn't a bare "whatever goes, goes". God tolerates details He may or may not condone to work forth His will in His creatures. In the realm of prayer, God's permissive will tests me in my obedience & waiting upon Him.

4. God's revealed will

The third great sub-section of God's ultimate will is what is referred to as God's "revealed will". Simply put, God's revealed will involves the words of the Old and New Testaments. Passages such as Deuteronomy 29:29; Amos 3:7; Romans 15:4 and 2 Timothy 3:16-17 describe God's intentions of making known His will to His people. What God has made known in His Word for our benefit, obedience and fellowship with Him is what we mean by the term "revealed will". This represents the area of responsibility that I ought to know, obey and apply. Whenever one combines verses of the Bible with their prayer-life, clarity results. 

Closing thoughts:

We looked today at important distinctions in God's will. Jesus instructed His disciples and us to pray: "thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven". We know that God's delights to guide His people by His will and desires for them to pray by it (see Psalm 32:8; Psalm 37:23). We considered several distinctions in God's will that can aid in thinking more forthrightly about praying by the will of God. Might we apply what we learned to our prayer lives for His glory and honor. 

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