The other day, I read a Christian article. The author said, “To my great distress, I sometimes hear people say, in their zeal for fervency and efficacy in prayer, that we should never qualify our prayer requests if it be Your will. Some will even say, to attach those words–those conditional terms–to our prayers is an act of unbelief.”
Unlike that author, I don’t merely find this distressing. Not petitioning God for His will in our lives is both shocking and unthinkable.
While reading a different “Christian” book, though, I came across similar sentiments, and I was horrified. Then, as if that wasn’t bad enough, I heard much the same thing at a men’s prayer breakfast.
This increasingly popular opinion is just the opposite of what Jesus taught us in His model prayer in luke 11, and the way this Godless prayer idea is creeping into the body of Christ is alarming. So while I don’t pretend to have the last word on this subject, I can’t remain silent any longer.
Good Christians who see God’s will as a restrictive fence are being taken in by teachers and preachers who promise them the moon. That might seem to be a strong statement to you, but Jesus explained, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me, and finish his work.” (John 4:34, NIV) Because of this verse and others like it, we need to check out what these teachers say, and allow God’s word to be a measuring rod. Put plainly, instead of acting on feelings alone, we need to get to know our Bibles to prevent us from twisting God’s Word, or taking it out of context.
Scripture admonishes us to “do your best to present yourself to God as one aproved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, and who correctly handles the Word of Truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15, NIV) Ephesians 4:14 also encourages us to reach the full maturity in Christ that we should strive for: “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful skeeming.” (NIV)
Rather than being a confining wall, the Word tells us that asking for God’s will is a gateway to power and freedom. For example, 1 John 5:14 says, “This is the confidence we have in aproaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (NIV)
Conversely, James 4:3 tells us, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (NIV)
I hear a lot of people encouraging others to trust their hearts concerning something in their lives. In contrast, God spoke these words through the prophet Jeramiah: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9, KJV)
One author says about this verse, “The immediate context of the verse speaks of Judah’s sinfulness in spite of all the blessings of God. The Hebrew word which translates to mean ‘desperately wicked’ has the idea of a terminal, incurable illness. While the immediate context speaks of the nation of Judah, that nation illustrates the human condition that is true everywhere, and for everyone.”
The Bible labels this sin rebellion against a holy God. 1 Samuel 15:23 tells us, “For rebellion is like the sin of divination.” (NIV)
Therefore, if I am supposed to become conformed into the image of Christ, how can I say that asking for God’s direction is unnecessary, or an impediment to my prayer life? In order to be conformed to His will, I need to submit to Him, rather than butting my head against the fence of the all-knowing God. When the gateway of submission to Him stands open before me, then, I simply need to walk through it as He directs me.
That brings up another point, however. As Christians, we are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:19 not to quench the Spirit. The devotional writer Oswald Chambers reminds us, “The voice of the Spirit of God is as gentle as a summer breze.” But we often miss that voice because of our own rebellion. Regarding this rebellion, I think Frank Sinatra said it best in his song: “I did it my way.”
In conclusion, we have the Word, the will, and the walk of the believer. All three are interrelated, and all three are foundational. Do you remember Jesus’ parable of the fool’s house which was built on the sand? When the foundation of the house is diminished, the house will crumble beneath the storms of life. In the same way, we can only stand tall as His disciples when we bow before His throne, seeking the One who is in control. I pray that you will regard God’s will as an open gateway, instead of a restrictive barrier.
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