As I sat there, I could feel the weight of what I was about to pray. It was too familiar.
I had prayed the same thing hundreds of times.
Would this time be different?
I prayed as hard as I could, laying out everything I could think of to convince God to finally show me His will.
I felt my soul wither a little as I wondered if I would ever figure it out.
Then I heard someone say something that changed my life.
If you don’t know what you are expecting when you pray, how would you know if it happened?
Though it didn’t happen overnight, God slowly taught me what it means to understand His will. After that, I felt as though a weight was lifted. I could finally rest, my prayers were confident, and I was learning more about God’s will every day.
Many people go through life praying for God’s will as a way to hide their confusion about what to do. It’s a convenient way to get around our own lack of understanding. I know it was for me.
When things don’t work out, we can either blame God or tell ourselves that He allowed the difficulty as part of His plan. And neither one is a good idea.
Suffering with Christ is something we should certainly expect as Christians. But not all suffering is good, and most of what people think is Godly suffering is not even close. But that’s a topic for another day.
What Is God’s Will?
So when you pray for God’s will, how would you know if it happened?
Many people believe that everything that happens is His will, but if that’s true, then why pray for it? If everything were happening exactly as it should, then we wouldn’t have to do anything. Our efforts would be so insignificant that they wouldn’t be worth doing.
But the Bible says that we should know and understand the will of God.
That means things are happening that are not His will, and we have to learn how to recognize the difference.
So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
What does changing your thinking have to do with the will of God? Isn’t He sovereign and in control of everything? Aren’t we just mere pawns on His Heavenly chessboard?
The reason our thinking needs to change is so we can see that not everything is from God. If we ever want to follow Jesus’ example, we have to learn what is God’s will and what isn’t because our minds are not naturally tuned to know the difference.
Jesus showed the wrong thinking of the religious leaders of His day by pointing out that they were more devoted to their theology (traditions) than to God. They were so deep in their way of thinking, they completely missed that He was the One the scriptures foretold of.
They were more concerned with the pursuit of knowledge than what they claimed to believe.
“You put aside God’s command and obey human teachings.”
Remember, these were the same men that Jesus later called the children of the devil. If that’s not enough to make you stop and think, I don’t know what is.
They trusted in their own righteousness instead of the one that could make them righteous. And their thinking completely hindered their ability to see the truth.
You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires.
He spoke also this parable to certain people who were convinced of their own righteousness, and who despised all others.
2 Corinthians 4:4
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of unbelievers, that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not shine unto them.
If you never change your thinking about God’s will, you will stay confused about what it is. Confusion is not of God, yet it’s one of the most widespread problems in Christianity.
What’s Allowed In God’s Will?
The reason so many people have so much trouble is that they go through life being attacked, but believe God allows everything for a reason, so they don’t fight. They are sick, poor and depressed, and aren’t doing anything about it because they think it’s God’s plan.
All these things are the devil. When he attacks, it’s obvious. If there’s stealing, killing and destroying, it’s him.
Identifying the attacks of the enemy is crucial to understanding God’s will.
When you realize that Jesus’ ministry was about pulling back the curtain on satan’s gameplan you will understand the responsibility we have to fight against him. If everything that happens is God’s will, Jesus would have been fighting against God by healing people and casting out demons.
He healed the sick, cast out demons, and abundantly provided for the needs of people.
So why do we turn around and say that God is allowing the same things Jesus destroyed? What changed?
People want to get hung up on the lives of Job and the disciples as proof that our lives aren’t supposed to be good.
Suffering is the anchor that binds many Christians to God.
Or so they think.
Listen, if you have to choose between what Job and the disciples experienced and what Jesus said and did, who should you believe?
They were dealing with a severely limited understanding and years of religious tradition, and He was getting His direction straight from the Father. It’s not hard to see which one is right.
Jesus was the embodiment of God’s perfect will on this earth. And that’s where you have to look if you want to find His plan.
Don’t believe everything that happens is God’s will just because someone told you it is. People have twisted the scripture to fit into their theology instead of letting the Spirit of God reveal the truth.
But Jesus Prayed For God’s Will!
Jesus did pray for God’s will, but it was never because He was confused. He did it two times in the Bible, and both reveal a very important truth.
See if you can spot the similarity. It’s the key to understanding this confusing topic.
In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your Kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
The “Lord’s Prayer” is the perfect summary of Jesus’ ministry. Do you see it?!
It covers His reverence for and submission to the Father, His teachings about the Kingdom of God, God’s will, provision, forgiveness of sins, temptation and resisting the devil.
So when Jesus says to pray that God’s will be done, we have some context to understand what He was saying.
And that is the start of understanding God’s will.
In Matthew 6:33, Jesus said to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
Your priority shouldn’t be what you want or need or how you feel at any given moment. Your focus should always be doing your part in the Kingdom of God.
And when you put His things first in your life, He promises to take care of everything you need.
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
If you find yourself praying often about material resources, check up on yourself. Are you putting the things of God first in your life? Is His Kingdom the main priority or do you spend all your time and money building your own kingdom?
Every believer has a part to play in bringing God’s Kingdom to the earth, and the abundant life Jesus came to give can only be found by doing His plan. Paul called it the hidden life in Christ.
God Plays Hide-And-Seek
Being saved isn’t enough to live this type of life. It’s not going to fall on you just because you believe in Jesus.
You have to work to find it, and that only happens when you seek God with all your heart, mind and soul.
He knows when you aren’t serious, so don’t even try to fake it.
Jeremiah and Proverbs both point to this hidden life in Christ. They were prophesying about Jesus and the mysteries of God and His Kingdom.
Search for wisdom as you would search for silver or hidden treasure. Then you will understand what it means to respect and to know the LORD God.
You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
When Jesus spoke about the Kingdom of God, He often used images of hidden things being found. This is the key to understanding the Kingdom of God and the accomplishment of His will on the earth.
The Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and joyfully went and sold all he had and bought that field.
How much effort does it take to pray a ten-second prayer and throw in “if it be thy will” at the end? Not much, and it certainly doesn’t match how these verses portray the Kingdom.
The Prayer God Didn’t Answer
That brings us to the second time Jesus prayed for God’s will.
Jesus was under extreme pressure just before He was taken to be killed. He knew through scriptures that every prophecy of His suffering was about to be fulfilled.
We have no idea what it was like to carry every sin, disease, weakness, and pain in His body. The fact that He sweat blood gives a glimpse into the intense stress He was under.
Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses, and He carried our pains; but we, in turn, regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; the punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds.
In His agony, He fell on His face and asked God to take it away. But in spite of this unbearable pain and suffering, He chose to submit to God’s will.
He told them,“My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.
So what’s the hidden similarity in these two passages? How are they different than our mindless prayers asking for God’s will? Though Jesus prayed for God’s will in both places, He knew exactly what it was. He wasn’t praying because He was confused or wondering what to do.
The Only Place To Find God’s Will
Jesus knows what it means for God’s will to be accomplished in the earth. And He understood that His purpose was to carry our sin, disease, and weakness and destroy the works of the devil.
WIthout knowing the will of God, Jesus could never have fulfilled His part in God’s plan. The same is true in your life. The same understanding He had about God’s will and His part in the Kingdom is also available to us. It’s doesn’t come naturally, but only when your thinking is renewed with the mind of Christ.
1 Corinthians 2:16
For who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
We learn God’s will the same way Jesus did. It must come from God. He shows us when He speaks to us by His Word and by His Spirit.
Blindly praying for God’s will is the wrong way to find it. After all, if you knew His will you wouldn’t need to pray Thy will be done.
If you want God’s will in your life, you have to receive it by faith through Christ.
Though Jesus did pray about God’s will, it was never the way Christians do today. He knew God’s will and He was living it every day. Everything He did was perfectly in line with God’s will because His direction was straight from God.
That’s what God wants for every believer. He wants you to understand His will and to live by faith every day to fulfill it. The Holy Spirit is your Helper, and He will lead you to a full understanding of God’s will.
So change the way you think about God’s will and let the Holy Spirit reveal the truth. You can find and fulfill God’s will for your life, but you have to be diligent and take the time.
The only way to find the will of God is to be hungry for it. To search for it as you would search for a hidden treasure.
I watched a documentary about a treasure hunter that learned of a Spanish ship reported to have millions of dollars worth of precious metals and jewels aboard. The problem was no one knew exactly where it sank.
But that didn’t stop this guy. He spent tens of thousands of dollars and decades searching. Eventually, when he was an old man, he found it. By that point, it had become a family business, and the treasure was his legacy to his children. His efforts paid off for generations to come.
Let’s be more like that guy.
Don’t sit back and wait for God to drop His will in your lap. That’s never going to happen. You have to get up and look for it.
If you value God’s will, you will search for it like a relentless treasure hunter.
If you ever find yourself stuck and you don’t understand what’s happening, turn to Jesus. He has the treasure map that leads to the Kingdom of God and His will. Study the works and Words of Jesus until you get it.
When you read your Bible, do it like someone that’s searching for hidden treasure. Set your heart to do anything it takes to find God’s will and don’t give up until you find it!