Summary: How to know God’s will through prayer. Gives some practical questions to ask yourself
SBC Philippi 5/29/05 am
Rev. Jeff Simms
Knowing God’s Will Through Prayer
Primary Purpose: To evaluate how God speaks to us through prayer and how we can hear him.
We started talking last week about how to know God’s will. One thing I emphasized to you was that often times we really know God’s will, but don’t either want to do it or are too afraid to follow. We need to see that even Jesus had to submit to the Father’s will in prayer. It was in prayer that he determined to set aside his own will and to faithfully do the will of the Father.
One of the questions I must ask myself in prayer is “Do you really want to know God’s will? That seems like a silly question at first. But, many people do not really want to know. What they want is for God to bless their will. Are you willing to submit that will to God? Are you willing to let him change it, get rid of it, make it into something new? Something you need to remember is that God will not often speak his will to us until we are ready to receive it and willing to follow it. He knows whether your willing or not. Jesus Himself prayed, “Yet not what I will, but what you will.” He said that not because he wanted mankind lost. But, because of the horror of the path that it would take to redeem man. That path Jesus alone had to walk.
Some of us are like the preacher who was on a diet and prayed as he drove to work- “Now, Lord if it is your will for me not to have any donuts this morning You make sure there are no parking places in front of the donut shop.” And he later said, “I ate the donuts because there were two places right up front on only my 8th trip around the block.” We need to make sure we don’t play the game of making God’s guidance fit what we want rather than seeing if what we want actually fits His plans.” (illustration from Timothy Smith)
I personally went through a very intense time of seeking God’s will when it became clear that the chaplaincy program that I was in was going to be ending soon. Budget cuts were a constant issue in the facility that I was in. One facility closed and I went to another where I really didn’t feel like God was wanting me. But, I didn’t know what else to do. God used a period of silence to get my attention. God sometimes uses periods of silence like that to give us time to get more earnest about getting on our knees and really seeking time. They are times when God stretches us and helps us to grow through the process. It can be a time where we draw closer to the Lord also.
Writing about God’s sure guidance, British pastor Frank W. Boreham recounted a time when a minister visited his home in New Zealand. Being young and inexperienced, Boreham sought the counsel of his guest. He said that one morning they were sitting on the veranda, looking out over the golden plains to the purple sunlit mountains. He asked the minister, “Can a man be sure that in the hour of perplexity he will be rightly led by God? Can he feel secure aginast making a false step?” “I am certain of it,” exclaimed the minister, “if he will but give God time! As long as you live, remember that, Give God time!” (From Tim LaHaye, How to Study the Bible For Yourself, Harvest House, pg.95-96)
I must realize that honestly my will isn’t always in harmony with God’s will sometimes. It is through persistent times of prayer that God has a chance to mold me, convict me and speak to me. I must listen to him as well as speak. This takes time and effort on our part and can’t be rushed. M.Blaine Smith says about this in his book “Knowing God’s Will” that the “prospect of changing the will apart from prayer is about as good as taking a picture with an empty camera.” (Smith, pg.88) So, the first thing that prayer does is it allows God to turn my mind and heart towards his will.
I must remember when seeking God’s will through prayer also that God will not contradict himself. So, if I feel like God is telling me to do something I need to go to God’s Word and see if it is consistent. Some people go about seeking “spiritual experiences” with God through visions and dreams, which sometimes happened in the Old Testament. Most of today, he speaks to us through his Word and through the person of His son and perhaps in less dramatic means. I can always assume that God’s will is in my own best interest. I can always assume that God is acting out of his grace.