I John 5:14-15
Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.
And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
When God breathed into Adam’s nostrils, Adam became a living soul. A part of man’s soul is his emotions [what he feels], his mind [what he thinks] and his volitional will [what he chooses to do]. As C.S. Lewis says, “We don’t have a soul, we are a soul.” Take the will for example; every person has a will. The will is one of the aspects of the soul that makes us persons. My 9 month old grand daughter Chloe has a will because she is a person, not a puppet. At some point, her will needs to be broken but never crushed. No soul needs to be absorbed in another soul. One soul should never totally dominate another to the point that the dominated soul has no will at all. Jesus had a will and it was not the same as His Fathers. Don’t ask me to explain this mystery, no one can explain but we see in his prayer is His prayer in Gethsemane that he prayed, “Not My will but Yours be done.” Jesus had a will and it seems obvious that He did not want to die an ignominious death but He chose to do the Father’s will. It is God’s will that we choose His will, that is what makes us persons. God does not want to destroy your personality, He wants you to learn to choose His will.
Let me give you an illustration which comes from Luke 5: When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” Did Peter have a will? Did he not choose to disregard his will in order to please Jesus? Why would he do such a thing? Perhaps it was because of the confidence he had in Jesus. Perhaps it was because he loved Jesus and wanted to please Him. The point is, Peter had a will and he choose without force to do the will of Christ. Did he later regret doing Christ will instead of his? Of course he didn’t: he experienced something that was truly incredible and became a defining moment in Peter’s life.
TONIGHT WE ARE GOING TO TALK ABOUT LEARNING TO PRAY IN GOD’S WILL
- The first issue that each of us must settle is: What is God’s will for my life? Some may even question whether or not God has a will for them. Jesus said in His High Priestly prayer John 17:4, “I have finished the work which You gave Me to do.” You probably don’t have any trouble believing that God had a plan for Jesus which of course He did but do you believe that God has a plan for your life? The first step to praying in God’s will is to submit personally to His plan for your life. A lot of folks are like Moses who prayed for God to send someone to Egypt but God did not answer Moses prayer. The someone God wanted to send was Moses and Moses was unwilling to go. You cannot pray in God’s will until you get in God’s will yourself. As long as you are living in rebellion against God’s will for your life you will find it very difficult to pray in His will. This is why I question the effectiveness of the “Hearers Only” when they pray. They pray for the lost but they have no intention of going and seeking out the lost and sharing the gospel. They pray about every and never do anything. They read books, listen to tapes, go to conference after conference but never put anything they learn into practice. They are like the folks James describes who pray “Be ye warm and filled” when they have two coats and plenty of food in their pantry. It is God’s will for you and I to share our coat and food. It is hypocritical for us to pray for God to send someone to help our neighbor when we have what they need.
- The second key to praying in God’s will is to pray for God’s direction daily. Proverbs 3:5-6 come to mind when we think about daily guidance. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. I love Jeremiah 10:23-24… I know, O Lord, that a man’s way is not in himself, Nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps. Correct me, O Lord, but with justice;Not with Your anger, or You will bring me to nothing. I have flown in and out of Atlanta Airport many times. It is the busiest airport in the world. They have four active run ways with a plan landing every 17 seconds. I would hate to know that my pilot refused to check with the tower before taking off. What if he had the attitude that most of us have; “I can see what’s out there, I done this before, I know what I’m doing, I don’t need any help.” Before you start your days flight, check in with the Tower. Get some guidance from above. If you are not willing to allow the LORD to direct your steps, you cannot pray in God’s will.
- The third key to praying in God’s will is to pray scripture. God cannot lie. He will never contradict His word. I think of praying in God’s will as a baseball field. You have to keep your request in fair territory, between the two foul lines. Anything out side the lines [God’s will] is foul. I had a seminary professor who said it was not biblical to pray for lost people. He said there is no scripture and verse that tells us to pray for lost people. There is no verse that says, “Thou shalt pray for lost folks,” but Jesus prayed while on the cross, “Father, forgive them because they do not know what they are doing.” It is my opinion that the folks who crucified Jesus, the ones He was praying for were lost. Paul said in I Timothy 2:3-4…This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. In 2 Peter 3:9…Peter says…The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. If it is God’s will for all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of truth or as Peter said to come to repentance, can we not with confidence pray for the lost. Sure we can and only the devil himself would persuade us otherwise. John said…Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.
The fourth key to praying in God’s will is to pray in the Spirit. Paul said to the Ephesians, With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel. The Holy Spirit is the originator and the energy of our prayers. There is a world of difference between a pray said and a pray prayed in the Spirit. The Spirit will never contradict the word. There are things you can count on from the Holy Spirit.  He will always agree with God’s word  He will always glorify Jesus  He will always make intercession for the saints when they cannot verbalize a prayer. He can interpret groanings.
I want to close with a couple of stories. The first comes from Charles Allen’s book ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE THROUGH PRAYER. An elderly woman became a widow and her husband had not left a will. This widow continued to take care of business with confidence and without hesitation. She told Dr. Allen who was her pastor, “I lived with him for forty years. I knew him so well, I know exactly what he would have done and I doing it.” I think the woman probably knew what she was talking about. I have been married over 40 years and I am pretty sure I know the will of my wife. It would be pretty simple: take care of the kids and grand kids. Don’t do anything that would hurt or disappoint them. Do not spend her life insurance on another woman: I am sure, that would not be her will. Do not open her casket at the COLS and no preaching at the service: singing only. She would want Joe Fitzgerald, Tom Sellick, Mark Richt, Gregg Holladay, Jason Marbut and Felton Cooper to be her pall bearers. I know the woman. Seriously, we you spend a lot of time with a person, you get to know them. Praying in God’s will is easy if you know Him well.
George Muller was a Prussian born in Germany. He moved to England at age 24 where he had become a member of a mission society but that relationship did not hold up. Muller would eventually settle in Bristol England where he spent the rest of his life except for his mission and evangelistic travels. He raised 10,024 children in four different homes. Besides the orphanages, he started 117 schools, most of them for children. I am not clear about this but if I understood right, he raised over 2.5 million dollars for his orphanages and schools and he never excepted any help from the government and he never solicited funds from anyone, he prayed about the needs and the funds were always available. If I have a supposed need and I pray about but also mention it to the congregation, I will never know if it was my prayer or my solicitation.