Sermon: Your Will, Or God’s?
Scripture: Matthew 6:10
In this week’s lessons, we learn what it means to pray that the Lord’s will be done, rather than ours.
Theme: Thy Will Be Done
We do not know what the Christians were praying for with regard to Peter’s imprisonment. They may have been praying that God would comfort Peter or that God would stay the hand of Herod or, which is more likely, that God would deliver the apostle from the prison. But I am sure they were praying, “If it be thy will,” for they were not expecting God to answer. At any rate, as they prayed Peter came to the door of the house and knocked, and a maid named Rhoda went to see who was there. She was astonished, so much so that she returned to the group that was praying without even letting Peter in. The ones who were praying were worse off than she was, however, for when they were told that it was Peter, they wouldn’t believe it. They said, “Thou art mad.” The story continues, “But she constantly affirmed that it was so. Then they said, ‘It is his angel.’ But Peter continued knocking; and when they had opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison” (Acts 12:15-17).
How many of our prayers are like that! In many of our churches prayer has become a form of a duty, and Christians pray without any sure expectancy of God’s answer. The prayer meeting has been removed from the week’s events or is ill attended. And the leaders think that they can arrange God’s blessing without asking for it. Jesus phrased this prayer as He did to teach us that we are to live and pray so much in the sphere of God’s name, God’s kingdom, and God’s glory that we may be bold in saying, “Thy will be done.” We may ask in confidence that God’s will may be done in our lives and in our churches.
It was a sense of being in the center of God’s will that gave Luther his great boldness in prayer. In 1540 Luther’s great friend and assistant, Frederick Myconius, became sick and was expected to die within a short time. On his bed he wrote a loving farewell note to Luther with a trembling hand. Luther received the letter and instantly sent back a reply: “I command thee in the name of God to live because I still have need of thee in the work of reforming the church… The Lord will never let me hear that thou art dead, but will permit thee to survive me. For this I am praying, this is my will, and may my will be done, because I seek only to glorify the name of God.” The words are almost shocking to us as we live in a more sensitive and cautious day, but they were certainly from God. For although Myconius had already lost the ability to speak when Luther’s letter came, in a short time he revived. He recovered completely, and he lived six more years to survive Luther himself by two months.
We are never so bold in prayer as when we can look into the face of God and say, “My Father, I do not pray for myself in this thing and I do not want my will done. I want Thy name to be glorified. Glorify it now in my situation, in my life, and do it in such a way that all men will know it is of Thee. Amen.”
How does the story of Peter’s release illustrate a lack of faith even in the midst of praying?
When we do pray for things, what spiritual realities are we always to keep before us? Define each of these.
Key Point: Jesus phrased this prayer as He did to teach us that we are to live and pray so much in the sphere of God’s name, God’s kingdom, and God’s glory that we may be bold in saying, “Thy will be done.” We may ask in confidence that God’s will may be done in our lives and in our churches.
For Further Study: To learn more about the will of God, download and listen for free to James Boice’s message, “God’s Good, Pleasing, and Perfect Will.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)