STUDY 5: THE FIRST CONCERN IN PRAYER – PART THREE: ‘YOUR WILL BE DONE …’

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2009

 

Here we come to the third section in the first concern prayer: here the God-centred focus of our prayer is for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

 

A. WHAT IS THIS WILL OF GOD FOR WHICH JESUS CHRIST COMMANDS US TO PRAY?

1. God’s will is his over-riding sovereign purpose which no one can abort or change:

Isaiah 14:24,26,27

‘The Lord Almighty has sworn, “Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will stand.” …This is the plan determined for the whole world; this is the hand stretched out over all nations. For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?’ See also Jeremiah 51:29.

Isaiah 46:10-11

‘I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please … what I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do’

Daniel 4:35

‘He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?”’

Galatians 1:3-4

‘…the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father’

Ephesians 1:9

‘ … according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ … according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will’ see also 1:5,11

Ephesians 3:11

‘ … according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord’

Hebrews 10:7,9,10

‘ “I have come to do your will.” … And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all’

Revelation 17:17

‘God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to give the beast their power to rule, until God’s words are fulfilled’

God has an agenda, a sovereign purpose to which he is committed and towards which he guides and governs the whole of history. This cosmic purpose of God is centred in Jesus Christ and his eternal kingdom. God will bring this purpose to its telos, its appointed goal and end. Nothing can stop this: neither our moral sin nor our disobedient and foolish choices. When we pray ‘your will be done on earth …’ we are praying that God will bring his cosmic purpose to pass, and we are committing ourselves to God’s integrity in fulfilling that purpose, despite the times when we haven’t the ghost of an idea how he is operating in the circumstances that surround us and our world.

2. God’s will is the incorporation of individuals into this over-riding purpose

Proverbs 19:21

‘Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails’

Proverbs 20:24

‘A man’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way?

Proverbs 21:1

‘The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases’

Isaiah 46:11

‘I summon … a man to fulfil my purpose …’ see also 45:1-7

John 21:22

‘If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?’

Acts 13:22 , 36

KJV

‘I have found David, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will. … David served his own generation by the will of God ’ see also Acts 26:16 KJV

Romans 8:28

‘God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose’

Romans 9:17

‘I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth’

1 Cor 1:1

‘ … called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God’ [See also 2 Cor. 1:1; Eph 1:1; Col 1:1; 2Tim 1:1]

1 Peter 3:17

‘It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good that for doing evil’

1 Peter 4:19

‘… those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good’

When we pray ‘your will be done …’ we are also committing ourselves to availability to be used by God in his cosmic purpose, and in the other aspects of his will listed below. We are telling him that we so want his will to be done that we are willing to be used by him, with or without our knowledge. We are telling him: ‘you are the potter, I am the clay’ – whatever vessel you make of me, use it, use me, for your grand and glorious plan and purpose.

3. God’s will is the honour of his son:

John 5:22b23

‘ ... the Father ... has entrusted all judgement to the Son, that all may honour the Son just as they honour the Father. He who does not honour the Son does not honour the Father, who sent him’

Phil 2:9-11

‘Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father’

Here we are praying that in the present time people will give to Jesus Christ the honour due to him, and for the coming of the day when every one – when all creatures on heaven and on earth – will acknowledge that he is the Lord of lords and the King of kings. [It is easy to see at this point how the three aspects of this God-centred concern all hold together and support each other – the honour of his name, the coming of his Kingdom, and the effecting of his will.]

4. God’s will is that we believe in Jesus Christ:

John 6:29

‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent’

Acts 22:14

‘The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth’

Here, in praying for the will of God to be done, we focus on both the honour of his Son and the salvation of the lost. Here, in God’s will that people believe in his Son, both [3] and [5] are involved. Like the previous point, this embraces the honour of God’s name and the coming of his Kingdom.

5. God’s will is the salvation of the lost:

Matt 18:14

‘... your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost’

John 1:13 KJV

‘which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God’

2 Tim 1:9

‘God … has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace’

James 1:18 KJV

‘Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures’

2 Peter 3:9

‘The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance’

Whenever we pray for someone’s salvation our prayers are in line with this phrase of the Lord’s Prayer: ‘your will be done’ – ‘bring this person to salvation, Father – don’t let them reject your word, bring them to repentance’.

6. God’s will is the eternal security of all who believe in Jesus Christ:

John 6: 39,40

‘And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day’

John 17:24

‘Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory…’

Many of Paul’s prayers, which we will look at much later, come under this aspect of praying that God’s will be done. It is his will that those who believe in him should keep on growing in their knowledge and faith, that their faith will endure through all the stresses and strains of life. Whenever we pray for Christians who are struggling with the temptation to give up their faith because of persecutions and pressures of various kinds, we are praying ‘your will be done’, for their perseverance is his will.

7. God’s will is his revealed commands recorded in the Scripture – that is, our sanctification

Ezra 7:18

‘ …do whatever seems best … in accordance with the will of your God’

Romans 2:18

‘ … if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law

Ephes 5:17

‘… do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is’

Ephes 6:6

‘… like the slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart’

Coloss 4:12

‘Epaphras … is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured’

1 Thess 4:3ff

‘It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; ....’

2 Tim 1:9

‘God … has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace’

Heb 13:20-21

‘May the God of peace … equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ’

1 Peter 2:15

‘For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men’

1 Peter 4:2

‘… he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God’

Here we are telling God that we are committed to obeying his commands – we are asking him to help us to keep them, to live our lives according to his directions, to do the things that please him, and to avoid the things that grieve him. We are here also giving him the ‘permission’ to correct us when we disobey – because we want his will to be expressed in our lives.

B. GOD’S WILL IN THE PSALMS

In the Psalms there are many prayers for guidance, leading and so on; in the vast majority of them they are concerned with living in accordance with God’s commandments, not with ‘decision making’ guidance. Study the verses listed below. The key words are: teach, guide, lead, instruct, path, counsel, direct, light, teach/taught, watch, know, sees. Can you identify what it is that makes the writers of the Psalms ask the Lord for his direction and leading?

Psalms 1 :6; 5:8; 13:3; 16:7,11; 17:5; 18:21; 19:11; 23:2,3; 25:4,5,8,9,12; 27:11; 31:3; 37:5,7; 57:2; 61:2; 67:4; 86:11; 103:7; 119:16,20,24,35,47,97,105,127,133; 121:5,7,8; 139:3,7-10,16; 142:3; 143 :8,10; 145:20.

 

C. COMMITMENT AND SUBMISSION TO THE WILL OF GOD

Psalm 40:8

Psalm 143:10

Luke 22:42

John 4:35

John 5:30

John 6:38

Acts 18:21

Acts 21:14

Romans 1:10

Romans 12:1-2

Romans 15:32

1 Cor 4:19

James 4:15

Colossians 1:9–12a

Make notes on the commitment of the human heart and will to the will of God in the above verses; here a submission to God’s purpose and sovereign rule is expressed – in the big things, and in the little things, both in amoral choices and moral choices. The over-riding passion is to please God.

Some of these refer to ‘decision making’ and the will of God, but they are not asking for specific directions. Rather they are acknowledgements that God has the authority and the power to change circumstances and over-rule and alter our decisions, so that we know that things we plan and desire may be over-ridden by his will and purpose, and we are happy with that, indeed, that is what we want God to do, if our decisions are not wise or appropriate.

The example of Jesus Christ’s submission to his Father’s will instructs us as to what our attitude should be as we seek to follow him. When we pray ‘your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’ we are saying ‘God, here I am, I want to do your will, just like Jesus. Not my will, Father, but yours be done – in my living, in my choices. I delight to do your will.’

STUDY FIVE EVALUATION: How often do I pray that my Father’s will be done?

I pray that:

Never

Sometimes

Often

God’s over-riding purpose will come to pass and I tell him I’m available to be used in that purpose

Jesus Christ will be honoured

People will believe in Jesus Christ

The lost will come to repentance

Christians will remain faithful to Jesus Christ

Christians will obey God’s word/be sanctified

I will obey his Word and be sanctified (holy)