There is a fierce battle going on for the human “will.” People are constantly working to persuade other people or groups to think a different way than what they already think. We see this with political campaigns, political action groups, companies as they advertise products, in education, etc. Many claim to be attempting to open the minds of others and allow them to think for themselves, but in reality, they are often coercing people into doing things they do not wish to do. To recognize this goes on in our world and to recognize some of the ways in which it takes place helps us to understand the tension between the will of God and the will of man in this earthly realm. This tension is so real we often see it even when we pray.
The next line in the Lord’s Prayer is “Your will be done on Earth as in Heaven.” The only thing Christians can properly pray for are those things which are in accordance with the will of God. If we pray for something which contradicts God’s Word then we know it is not His will. In such cases the answer is already no. Criminals often do stupid things, but imagine the absurdity of one of them praying a prayer like this: “Lord I am about to rob this store at gunpoint, and I want you to keep me from getting caught tonight. Please protect me and my partner in crime. Please allow there to be a lot of money in the cash register and we pray that the clerk will be cooperative as we rob her.” Does this sound utterly ridiculous? Is such a criminal simply “Praying without Ceasing” like Thessalonians instructs? What about a less extreme example? What if someone prayed “Lord, I know I did not study for the test so please let me be able to see my friend’s paper and copy his answers.” How about praying to not get caught for knowingly cheating on your income tax; for speeding; for lying; or just plain laziness! We can pray, but we are wasting our time if we are unwilling to align our will to God’s will in that prayer and the first thing that must line up is our will with His will found in Scripture. Dr. Albert Mohler has said “Christians should never ask what God’s will is in regards to a matter God has already spoken to in His Word.”
All the troubles that exist in this world exist because of desire for man’s will to be done instead of God’s will. If mankind could all unify and say “God’s will be done” the problems we have known would go away. Does this sound like wishful thinking? Too good to be true? One day, this will actually be a reality right here on this earth during the millennial reign of Christ. In the model prayer Jesus taught the disciples to elevate God’s will above man’s will as they foreshadowed the perfect world to come.
God’s will is done in Heaven already as it should be. Not one thing is out of order. Psalm 18:30 tells us, “As for God, His way is perfect.” God and God alone is perfect, consequently any way that is not God’s way is imperfect; sinful, and thus contributes to the problems of this world. Finding God’s will is an apparent struggle for many people. Many, in the modern era, view realizing it as a sort of mystic, visionary type of experience but historically this has not been the case. In centuries past, people would have not understood the concept of “finding God’s will for my life” or for finding it in a certain situation. To them, plain and simple, the will of God was right there in the Scripture.
Overwhelmingly, God’s will is already revealed in a person’s life and situation. Perhaps we can see this by pondering a few questions. Who chose your parents? Who chose when you would be born? Who chose what country/state/town you would be born in? Who chose your race, your eye color, hair color, your personality. All those things and much more were chosen by God’s sovereign will. If so much has been chosen for us what then is our responsibility? Solomon concluded in Ecclesiastes that the whole duty of man was to “Fear God and keep His commandments.” We are also told to love the Lord our God with all our heart, obey His commandments, serve the Lord all our days, etc. etc. etc. Paul wrote to the Romans in 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your minds that you may do that which is the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.” The good, perfect, and acceptable is the way God made things originally here on earth before the fall and how they are right now in Heaven. The only place in the entire Universe where there is “subversion” to God’s will is right here on this present earth.
The church of the Lord Jesus Christ, more than anything else, is to give the world around it a taste of what Heaven is like. Christian families, who make up the church, are to give the world around it a taste of the wonder of God. The unity of a husband and wife is to picture Christ’s relationship with His church. Children are to be submissive to their parents just as God’s children are submissive to their Heavenly Father.
How can I, a sinful person, know what a holy and righteous God requires of me? Andrew Murray, who has written so extensively on prayer, writes “God’s children often do not really believe that it is possible to know God’s will. Or if they do believe this, they do not take the time and trouble to find it out. What we need is to see clearly in what way it is that the Father leads His waiting, teachable child to know that his petition is according to His will. It is through God’s Holy Word, taken up and kept in the heart . . .”
Too often our prayers have become a form or a duty. Even many Bible-believing Christians pray without any real expectancy of God’s answer. Prayer meetings have been removed from the week’s events or are poorly attended and the leaders think they can arrange God’s blessings without asking for them! We as believers are to live and to pray so much in the sphere of God’s name, God’s Kingdom, and God’s glory that we may be bod in saying “Thy will be done.” It has often been said “Prayer changes things,” but most of all prayer changes us! As we pray for God’s kingdom to come, we also pray for His will to be done perfectly on this earth, just as it is perfectly done in Heaven.
Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor