Scriptures: Matthew 6:9-10, Matthew 2:6, John 4:34, John 6:38, Mark 14:36, Romans 12:1, Romans 12:2, Romans 12:1-2
The Lord's Prayer is a model prayer. It's the perfect prayer of what prayer should consist. The prayer is what we should talk about when we talk to Father. In today's lesson, we come to the part where we talk to Father concerning his will for our lives. The Lord's Prayer is the technique for praying that the Lord himself used (Luk 11:1-4), so we know it works. Jesus told us that when we pray, we should also include a place to talk to Father about his will for our lives.
Matthew 6:9 This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
Matthew 6:10 your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
We don't have a problem with doing his will today on earth as in heaven. We shouldn't have a problem with his kingdom coming today on earth as in heaven. No one will argue that we should be doing his will on earth today. Nearly everyone will argue if we begin talking about his kingdom existing today on earth.
It's interesting to me that the Lord Jesus said for us to first talk with Father about his kingdom and next about his will. If we want to achieve Father's attention in prayer, talk to him about his kingdom and about his will for us in that kingdom. Talk to Father about these issues before we talk to him about what we want.
The Lord said, ". . . on earth as it is in heaven." We have seen the Biblical definition for heaven. Heaven is God's throne (Mat 5:34; Act 7:49). Heaven is where Father rules. We are to bring the kingdom and do God's will on earth as it is in God's throne.
What about earth? We know what earth means, right? Well, since there are seven different Hebrew words and five different Greek words translated earth in the King James' version, earth may not mean exactly what we think it means. Let's take a look at the word Jesus used that is translated earth. It is the Greek word ge (Strong's #1093) and is pronounced ghay. It means: (1) cultivatable land; (2) the earth as we stand; (3) a country, land enclosed within fixed boundaries, a tract of land, territory, region; (4) the inhabited earth. The word doesn't actually mean this globe to which we gravitate. It basically means the land we cultivate, where we stand, our region and country where people inhabit. It's the area that I orbit. Let me show us the first use of this word in the scriptures.
Matthew 2:6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land [ge] of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
The word speaks of a region. My point is that the Lord wants us to bring his kingdom to the same area we do his will. That area is the area we cultivate. It's the land which we stand upon. I can't do much about the globe. I can do something to bring his kingdom and accomplish his will in the region that I inhabit.
Often we recite this part of the prayer without thought. Most people have no intention of doing Father's will. They simply recite a prayer. So, off the top I need to ask us, "Do you truly care what Father 's will is for your life?" When you pray, do you ask Father, with sincerity, about his will concerning your life? If I were to ask you what Father's will is for your life, could you tell me? Most Christ followers could not. What are you here on ge to accomplish?
It's interesting to me how knowing the Lord's will is all important to some, but unimportant to others. As a pastor of a wonderful church and being around wonderful people most of my life (what an honor!), I continue to be touched in a special way when someone attempts to relay to me how desperately they desire to find the Father's will. Just this past week (as I write), I had a precious man attempt to express that desire to me. My heart filled. I thought that if the desire of that person touched me that deeply, how deeply does it touch Father? Nothing that will touch the Father's heart any deeper than a person's true desire to do his will.
Have you ever truly prayed, with deep thought and desire, something like, "Father, your will be done in my life? By the way, exactly what is your will for my life? What exactly is it that I am here on this planet to accomplish for you? Am I anywhere close to doing it? Father, will you please show me your will for my life?" Few people sincerely, with deep conviction, talked to Father about his will for their life. Of all the people that you know, you can probably count on one hand those who sincerely talk with Father regularly about his will for their lives and then attempt to accomplish it.
Jesus said we should talk consistently with Father about his will for our lives. Why is that? Why should we keep talking to Father about his will for our lives? Does his will change for our lives and we need to keep learning the new plan? We tend to want the big picture of Father's will for our lives all at once. Father will give his will to us by brush strokes. Honestly, we could not handle the whole picture all at one time. The scriptures do not teach that we get all of the Lord's will for our lives at one setting. But we can get his will for today. We can get direction. We may not get his will for a lifetime with one prayer, but we can for a week. Let's begin there.
I need to do the Father's will in good times, in not so good times, and in tough times. It's easy to do the Father's will in good times, but it's not easy in tough times. Let's take some lessons from the Lord and observe how desiring to do the Father's will can change with the situations of life.
Early in the Lord's ministry, when his ministry was growing, people were excited, and things were going well. At that time Jesus said,
John 4:34 "My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.
Father's will includes work. Praying for the Father's will to be done in our lives is easy when things are going well. Life is fun and exciting. We feed on his will. It's meat for us. Jesus had just converted the woman at the well and was about to convert an entire city. Father's will energizes us and motivates us when things are going well. We eat up doing his will. It's easy to pray. It's easy to give. It's easy to serve.
I remember when I first came to our city and began leading a church. Things were phenomenal. The church doubled or tripled in size within a few months. Everyone was happy and excited. God was moving and it was easy to talk to Father about his will. It was meat for us, but things changed.
In the middle of the Lord's ministry, there was resistance. There were attacks on the Lord's character and his motives. His teachings were misunderstood and came under criticism.
John 6:38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.
Praying for Father's will to be done in our lives and moving toward that goal is a little more difficult when things become more difficult. We know we are sent with a purpose, but it's no longer easy to gobble up his will. If you are familiar with John chapter 6, Jesus had fed the multitude fish and bread. He crossed the lake and the people came after him. He told them they were not seeking him because he was the son of man and could give them eternal life, but because they wanted more fish and bread. A little later in the chapter, Jesus had done a teaching about his being the bread from heaven (Joh 6:51) and how they must eat his flesh and drink his blood. That did it. The big crowd left (Joh 6:66).
I have experienced times when things were not going well. There was misunderstanding and unhappiness. The urge to pray is not as intense and neither is the desire to do the Father's will. Still, we must talk to Father about his will to remind ourselves to stay within it.
At the end of Christ's ministry, things were really rough. Jesus knew he was about to be killed and would die a horrible death. Still, he prayed,
Mark 14:36 "Abba, Father," he said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will."
Praying that Father's will be done is nearly impossible when things are rough. It's tough to pray that his will be done when his will is that we be crucified. It's tough knowing that we are in the center of Father's will and things are going badly, but it is that way sometimes. Praying and meaning that Father's will be done in our lives is directly related to how things are going in our lives.
In order to do Father's will, we must know Father's will. How is that accomplished? Let's talk about a few ways we can learn Father's will for our lives.
1. Present Ourselves - test and approve
Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Prayer. This prayer - the Lord's Prayer - is basically about our individually presenting ourselves to the Lord. Matthew 6:6 says it's "closet" prayer (KJV) or "room" prayer (NIV). The thought is it's private prayer. Bringing ourselves before God privately in acts of worship will transform our minds. We can know the will of God. We learn Father's will simply by getting in his presence. In fact, we never will know his will unless we present ourselves.
Each of the following suggested ways of finding the Lord's will must include this first principle of presenting ourselves to the Father. There is no finding Father's will unless we present ourselves to him.
2. The Written Word. The Word of God is the written will of God. It is the primary way to learn the will and ways of Father. To discover Father's individual will for my life, I must first have an understanding about the overall will of Father. Strangely, so few people read the Written Word. Because of that, few people know the overall will of God much less the individual will of God for their lives. His will for our individual lives will align with the written will of God. I must read his word to grasp his will for my life.
3. Prophetic Ministry. I personally believe the gift of prophecy is a tremendous help to discover the will of Father. This gift comes through two different prophetic gifts given by the Spirit and taught in the Bible. One is the spiritual gift of prophecy of which 1 Corinthians 12:10 speaks. This prophetic gift identifies gifts and callings within people. It gives directions concerning Father's will for our lives. I have had many personal prophecies which have given me directions and confidence to accomplish God's will for my life. Another gift of prophecy is spoken of in Romans 12:6. This prophetic gift boldly declares the word of the Lord through the scriptures. The word of God is made relevant and brings direction through the preaching of the Word of God. As we listen to this gift operate, we learn of God's overall will and see our place in his will individually. Our hearts fill with a desire to know, understand, and accomplish God's word. Good preaching and teaching are operative in this prophetic gift. Both prophetic gifts help tremendously in finding God's will.
4. Relationship and Mentors. The people we run with will help take us toward the will of God or take us away from the will of God. Finding people to mentor us is extremely important. The Bible calls it being made a disciple. Sadly, few people have been discipled. We should draw from people who we realize are experiencing the will of God in the direction we believe we are to go. Their experience, wisdom, and instruction are invaluable. If we can't spend time with that person, then books written by them are all-important. Their thoughts and experiences are recorded for us to glean and apply. Good teaching tapes will also help tremendously in finding Father's will.
5. Good Church. We need to be a part of a good church where truth is taught, praise is given, relationships are developed, and our gifts and talents are honed and developed. It is usually within the framework of a good church that we discover the will of Father for our lives and activate the will of Father for our lives.
We present ourselves to the Lord in prayer. We present ourselves as we read the word. We present ourselves to prophetic gifts. We present ourselves to relationships and mentors. We present ourselves to books and teaching tapes. We present ourselves in the corporate gatherings of a good church. If we will do these, we will know the will of Father. We are not to grope around in the dark guessing at what the Father's will is for our lives. Let's look at Romans 12:1, 2 once again.
Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship.
Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Sometimes we think we have heard the Father and know his will, but how do we know if we actually have heard him? We are allowed to test and approve what God's will is for our lives. The Greek word translated test and approve in Romans 12:2 isdokimazo, pronounced dok-im-ad'-zo, (Strong's #1381) and means (1) to test, examine, prove, scrutinize (to see whether a thing is genuine or not), as metals; (2) to recognize as genuine after examination, to approve, deem worthy.
We are not testing the Father's will. The test is to see if we have properly heard the Father's will. We can miss the Father's will. Sometimes in our zeal and desire to do something, we confuse our will with the Father's will. I have done that many times. I have learned to test it. Here is how I do it. I run what I believe I have heard from the Lord by people that I know love me and desire that I fulfill Father's will. If it's still a go, I began activating it, but continue in test mode. If it's Father's will, doors open and seas part. If it's Father's will, resources will come - manna and quail and even water from a rock.
Early on in my walk with the Lord, I sought Father's will was for my life. I would fast - long fasts - and pray and seek the Lord asking him to show me his will. I would read his Word, receive prophecies, allow mentors to help me, read books, listen to tapes, drive or fly long distances to be taught, etc. I felt early on that I was to pastor and lead a church. But I didn't believe that I was to be a traditional pastor of a denominational church. It would be a different type church. It would be a relevant church like the one in the book of Acts. However, the traditional type church was all I knew. My attempting to express what I felt only sounded rebellious and arrogant and even unappreciative. I wasn't unappreciative. I simply knew I had this thing inside of me that came up every time I talked to Father about his will for my life. Unknowingly, I began to test what I thought was Father's will. I did what a person does in the denomination I was in. I sent out résumés not knowing what to expect and not pursuing meetings. To my amazement, several churches asked me to come and preach and some actually asked me to stay and pastor. I never felt peace about that until I came to our city. That was strange because it was the smallest city and smallest church. Yet, I felt it was the Lord's will to do something here. Father began opening doors and opening seas. Manna began coming and the rock gave water. Since then, every time it seemed we had come to the end and there was no way to go on, Father would make a way. I look back now over all those years and all the Father has allowed us to do. I can't even remember all the seas that opened and provisions he provided.
Have I made mistakes thinking I heard, but it wasn't Father? That would be yes, but I was testing and approving the will of God.
Let me say this on the heels of the previous paragraphs. Nothing I have ever done in my entire life has given me the fulfillment of doing God's will. I have had a wonderful life! I believe that it has been wonderful because I prayed as sincerely as I know how, "Father, your will be done."
So, I need to ask you as we end this lesson, "What is the Father's will for your life? What ministry will the Lord have you do?" There is a will that Father has for you. It is good, pleasing, and perfect.