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: God’s Will for Christians
A Christian may also claim any of God’s promises, for they are certainly God’s will for his life and for that of all others. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.” So if you go to God as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and ask for wisdom, you can be absolutely certain that you are praying in God’s will and that your prayer will be answered. Here is another, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your heart and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7). In other words, God wills that you have peace even in the midst of calamities, and He promises to impart it to you if you will lay your requests before Him.
You may be saying, “But none of these verses covers the little things in life, the things with which I am wrestling.” Well, let me give you a verse for these. In Philippians 4:8 we read, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” The verse means quite simply that you are to pursue the best things that life has to offer. If they are the best things for you, then do them. If not, go in another direction. Just be sure that you get your understanding of the will of God from Scripture.
If you will do that, then you will be able to pray to God with absolute confidence, and you can know and rejoice in the fact that your will is being increasingly conformed to His. John the Evangelist wrote to the believers of his day, “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us; and if we know that he hear us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him” (1 John 5:14-15).
To be faithful to this text, however, I must also say that there are Christians who use the idea of God’s will in a way that is entirely antithetical to everything that I have been saying here. There are Christians who make a great show about praying according to God’s will but who, in spite of their words, are actually using the idea to save face. I mean by this that they pray with so little confidence that God will ever answer their prayers that they are constantly adding “if it be thy will” to each of them, as if to say to each other and to themselves that they already know in advance that the thing they are asking for will not happen. Many of these Christians are deeply astonished when God actually does answer some prayer.
Let me give you an example of this type of praying from the earliest days of the Christian Church, when Herod Antipas was the reigning king in Palestine. Under his rule Peter was imprisoned in Jerusalem, and the Christians were worried. Peter had been imprisoned before and released, but Herod had just killed James, the brother of John, and there was every reason to think that he would execute Peter also. The Christians began to pray. They were praying in one part of Jerusalem at the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark, and as they were praying God was already at work in another part of the city releasing Peter from prison. The gates were flung open, and an angel led him out into the streets of the sleeping city.
Recount the promises of God for Christians found in the various passages. What other promises can you find in Scripture?
What enables us to pray with confidence?
Reflection: Do you pursue only those things that are virtuous and honoring to the Lord?
Application: Do you ever pray for things without really believing that God will answer them? Ask forgiveness for your lack of faith, and then ask for greater faith and trust.
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.)