Prayer - According to His Will
Father, we love you so, so much! Father we thank you for a copy of your word. Father we know that it is your revelation to us, it is the Word of God, it is your words. They are true, if we ever feel like we are in a place, and we just can’t hear from you, we are struggling to hear you speak to us, all we have to do is open your word and read it and we will hear your words to us. Father, we thank you for revealing yourself to us, for telling us who you are, and who we are, and who you want us to be in you. Father we thank you that even though we’ve rebelled against you that from the very beginning that you made a plan to restore a relationship with you again. Father we thank you for answering our prayers, and Father, sometimes we thank you for not answering our prayers Father, because we don’t pray as we should. Father we love you so much, Father I pray that during this sermon that you will open our eyes to Your word, and that you’ll open our minds, and that no matter who came in today that they will be able to go out of here today and they will be able to apply your word to their lives in a new way for the rest of their lives. Father it’s not just enough, just to study your word and to know it and to have knowledge in our mind, but Father, we have to apply it, we have to live by it, we have to change our life according to it, Father we thank you for giving us the strength to do that through your Holy Spirit. Father we love You so much, Father I pray that everything that I say in this message, I pray that it’s is according to your word, and that it will honor you. We love you so much Father, in Jesus name we pray. Amen.
Mark 11:22-26, just to get us caught up to where we are. This is from the Holman Christian Standard Bible.
22 Jesus replied to them, “Have faith in God. 23 I assure you: If anyone says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, all the things you pray and ask for —believe that you have received them, and you will have them. 25 And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you your wrongdoing. 26 [But if you don’t forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your wrongdoing.]”
Now like I said, we’ve been going through this same passage, 22-26, for a month and a half, normally when I get to a passage, I break it apart and I preach exactly what’s in a passage, but in this series, this prayer series, We’re just talking about all kinds of aspects of prayer. Today we are talking about the aspect of prayer of praying according to God’s will. Jesus teaches us to pray for God's will to be done in what we call the lords prayer.
9 “Therefore, you should pray like this: Our Father in heaven, Your name be honored as holy. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Jesus says that we should pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is done in heaven. Now, Have you ever just stopped to think about that for just a second. How is God’s will done in heaven? God is in heaven with the holy angels. When God tells and angel to do something, what do you think happens? I think it gets done. And I think it gets done pretty quick. And I don’t think there’s complaining. I think there’s thanksgiving. I think there’s a sincere appreciation that God has chosen me to do something for Him. Now God’s will is done in heaven perfectly. And I want you to get that. God’s will is done in heaven perfectly. So what Jesus is teaching for us to pray, is that His will will be done on earth perfectly. That is what we are to pray for and we’re not to pray for any less. We’re not to lower our standards. But we know, because God’s word has told us over and over, we live in a broken world. We live in a sinful world, and we still live in a world in which things will not be perfect until God puts an end to this world as we know it, and He creates a new heaven and a new earth, and then, we will see everything return to like it was in the garden of eden in the very beginning. Things will be perfect one day, but when we pray to God, we are to pray, that God’s will will be done on earth, perfectly, just as it’s done in heaven. That is our goal, that is what we shoot for, that is what we aspire for, and w should pray for no less on this earth.
We see Jesus not just giving us words, but we see Jesus living out what He just said. We see in Matthew 26, we see three times Jesus praying that God’s will will be done.
39 Going a little farther, He fell facedown and prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.”
This is a sincere, genuine prayer of Jesus. Jesus is genuinely living out what he has taught his disciples to do. He has come to a place in which what he wants is A, but he knows through his communion with God, and through the Holy Spirit, he knows what has to happen, he knows that what has to happen in God the Father’s will is B. He wants A, he desperately wants another way out of this situation, another way for us as broken people to be restored to a relationship with God the Father. But he knows that this is God’s will, and he prays, genuine prayer, if it’s possible, let this cup pass from me, but not my will, but yours be done. I still pray that your will be done, regardless of the cost to me.
42 Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, Your will be done.”
44 After leaving them, He went away again and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more.
Three times we see Jesus, over and over and over, three times he prayed the same thing. I want another way. I don’t want to go through this. I don’t want to receive your wrath on the cross. I am telling you, I really don’t think it was the nails in his hands, or the suffocating in the sun, or the flogging, or the ripped up back, I really don’t think that is what Jesus was dreading looking forward to. I sincerely believe, because Isaiah prophesied that it was God’s will to crush him, and that God’s wrath, for us, for sinners, was poured out on Jesus. That what we deserved, the wrath from God on us, what we deserve as sinners, was what Jesus was going to receive. I believe it was the wrath of God on him, that broken fellowship that he had from eternity past, from before time, before the earth began, before anything came into existence, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, was in perfect communion, the Trinity, perfect love, they loved each other, before anything came into being. They always for eternity had a perfect relationship between each other, with nothing causing any conflict, any problems. And yet he knew as the Son, he was going to have to receive the wrath of God the Father, as the penalty of our sins, so that we could be the righteousness of God. The Son was going to receive the wrath of the Father. And that is absolutely was something that Jesus was praying if there’s any other way, let it be. But if not, then I just want your will to be done.
This should really make us think about our prayers. You know we’ve got to ask ourselves are we praying according to God’s will, and we’ve got to ask ourselves, are we willing to receive anything in this life, no matter the cost, no matter the pain, no matter the difficulty, in order to see God’s will accomplished in my life on this earth. This is not just the ideal way to pray to God. Jesus is not saying, this is ideally what I want you to shoot for, but if not then that’s ok. Literally, we’ve got to understand that this is the only way for us to pray, and for God to hear our prayers. The only way for God to hear our prayers is that we pray in accordance to His will. Even though, I understand that God hears everything, ok. He’s everywhere, He hears everything, I’m not trying to preach that God didn’t hear, and said, “do what? I missed that.” No, God knows everything and hears everything, but God repeated says throughout the Scripture that He will not listen to certain people’s prayers. That He will turn his face and turn his ear from your requests.
18 If I had been aware of malice in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.
1 Indeed, the Lord’s hand is not too short to save, and His ear is not too deaf to hear.
Do you hear that? God’s ear is not too deaf to hear. Well I thought you just said God won’t hear our prayers. Hold up, hold up. We’re trying to say, the Scripture is trying to say, God’s inspired word is trying to tell you, “I do hear your prayers.” but you need to check this out. “But your iniquities, your sins against Me, have built barriers between you and your God.”
2 But your iniquities have built barriers between you and your God, and your sins have made Him hide His face from you so that He does not listen.
Your sins, even though God hears your prayers, your sins will cause God to turn a deaf ear to your prayers. Now this gets into the whole topic of obedience. Now these two verses talk about your sins, and about those being a barrier to God hearing your prayers. That gets into the topic of obedience, and next Sunday, I’m going to be preaching on how obedience and disobedience affects our prayers, so you’re going to want to hear that. Now, I haven’t decided if it’s going to be during Sunday Worship service or if it’s going to be Sunday night during prayer service. But it will be one or the other, next Sunday I will preach on obedience and disobedience affecting your prayer, but I want to point this out to you, this concept. That there are conditions that God puts on whether or not He will answer your prayers. God puts conditions on whether or not he’s going to give you the answer to your prayers. One of those conditions that he gives is that you must pray according to his will, and I’m going to show you that here in 1 John 5:14-15.
14 Now this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
There it is. We have confidence that he hears our prayers when we ask prayers that are according to his will.
15 And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for.
God does put conditions on answering our prayers, and one of those conditions is that it must be a prayer according to God’s will. And so this always happens when you get to this point, and you tell someone, “well you have to pray according to God’s will.” It never fails, the response for the listener is always, “well how do I know if it’s God’s will? How do I know if I’m praying according to God’s will? Because I get what you’re saying, but we’re supposed to have confidence in prayer. God wants us to be confident in our prayers. So there must be a way to be confident that we’re praying according to God’s will. How can we have that confidence? Because I’m telling you, I just don’t know, sometimes. I just have no idea if what I’m praying is God’s will or not, and I just don’t know. Sometimes I can get into this mindset of, “I never can be confident if it’s God’s will, so I always pray my prayer and then at the end of my prayer, I just say if it be your will, and what I’m really saying… And there’s nothing wrong with that, Scripture says over and over, if it be your will, and that’s fine, all I’m saying is, a lot of times, we’ll get into a mindset of “I never know.” And so I can never be confident if God’s going to answer my prayer because I just never know if it’s God’s will or not. Well let’s look at that, because I don’t want us to be that way, and God doesn’t either.
[Accidentally skipped this section:
So how do we know God's will? Wayne Gruden says:
“If the matter we are praying about is covered in a passage of scripture in which God gives us a command or a direct declaration of his will, then the answer to this question is easy: His will is that his Word be obeyed and that his commands be kept. We are to seek for perfect obedience to God's moral will on earth so that God's will might be done ‘on earth as it is in heaven.’” p.383
10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
This is what? This is talking about God’s moral will. That people act justly, and they live rightly, and that you follow God faithfully, and that morally, you are in tune with God’s will. That you live holy lives. This is why LEARNING THE SCRIPTURES is so vitally important. We know that the Word of God, are the words of God. These are God’s words to us. Let’s look at John 15:7. This is Jesus speaking. Now I want you to get this, because you’ve probably read this verse a thousand times and maybe it’s never clicked for you. I want to make sure everybody gets this. John 15:7 “If you remain in me and [I remain in you]”… is that what it says? No, He says, If you remain in me, and MY WORDS abide in you.
7 If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you.
Do you see how all of these passages, and I hope by the time we get done with this prayer series, it’s all going to make sense. Jesus didn’t just say one thing about prayer. He said a lot of things about prayer throughout the Scriptures. And when they all come together then it all begins to makes sense. See Jesus said, if you want to pray according to my will, and if you remain in me, you’ve got to have a relationship with me. That’s the other thing we won’t get into, but God didn’t promise to answer the prayer of lost people. He doesn’t give any promises in Scripture that he will answer any lost person’s prayer, except one. And that is the prayer of salvation. He promised He’ll answer that prayer of a lost person, no where in the Scripture has he ever promised that he’ll answer lost peoples prayers other than that. Jesus says if you remain in me, if you abide in me, if you are in relationship with me, ok, you’re a child of God, a son or daughter of God, then you know have immediate access to prayers being answered in your life by your Father who wants to give you good things and glorify His name.
Now he says if you remain in me and my words remain in you, then you’ll be able to pray according to my will and have confidence that your prayers will be answered when you ask them. You have to know his Words, and they have to sink deep into you. So I’m just going to say the more the Word of God is in you, the more you’ll be able to hear God’s word to you. When you’re praying and you’re asking for an answer to prayer and your asking God about something, the more of this you have memorized in your heart, the more of this that you read over and over and over and over and over and you hear God speaking over and over and over and over the more you’ll be able to hear God responding and answering your prayers when you’re praying to Him. He will recall Scripture to mind, to you. You’ll pray about something, and he’ll bring up a passage in your mind. That’s the Holy Spirit talking to you, reminding you of His words, that He has spoken to you, and it will get easier and easier and easier, 1 that your prayers will be more in line with God’s word and His will, and 2 that you’ll be able to hear him speak to you about the things you’re praying about.
Now I don’t have to try very hard to explain this, but do you know someone so well that you know what they would say in a given situation. Are there people that you know so well, I mean we all know people this way. Mainly parents, when you’re young, because that’s who you spend most of your life with growing up, your spouse, when you get married and you live a long life with your spouse. You just know, no matter what the situation, no matter what happens, or what somebody says, you just know already what they’re going to say. Kids do this, all the time. They’re like, I can’t say such and such because I know they’ll tell me no. I know that if I say, can I have such and such, they’re just going to say no. I just know what they’re going to say. Why? Because you have such a relationship with them, and it doesn’t even have to be a good one. I mean, you can have an awful relationship with somebody and you can still say I know them so well I know what they’re going to do, and I know what they’re going to say in this situation. What I’m saying to you is the more you listen to God speak about everything, and the more you hear him talk about this, and he talks about this, and he talks about this, I mean, what in life do we run into that God doesn’t talk about. Nothing. I mean you can stick new labels on it. “God doesn’t talk about Facebook.” Oh, yes He does! Oh, yes He does! And there’s a lot He has to say that would help you on Facebook. I don’t get on Facebook for a reason. I don’t want to hear it, don’t gossip, I mean we could just stop right there. I’m just saying, there’s nothing in your life that God doesn’t speak about in this book, over and over and over and over and over and over and over. And the more you familiarize yourself with His words to you, because these are his words to you, then every situation you come into, you will be more able to hear what he’s saying in the situation. Don’t do this, and here’s why. Or, I want you to do this, and here’s why. Or, don’t believe that lie, you’re not, yadda, yadda, yadda, let me tell you on the other hand, you’re my son, you’re my daughter, you’ve been forgiven, you are redeemed, you are a saint to me, you don’t have to listen to the enemy’s lies, because God’s word will continually speak to you through your mind and through your spirit. The more you get into this word, and the more you study this word, and can I just say a little side note.
If you’re reading the word, with no intention of actually living by it, you’re not doing yourself any good, and you can throw everything I just said out the window. You’re not going to remember anything you read, because you had no intention of actually applying it to your life and living by what you heard God say. Do you know how many times I’ve found myself in sticky situations, and will continue to find myself in sticky situations because I have decided, that when I come across a verse, and it applies to my life, that I’m going to live by it. Ya’ll should see me when I get called for Jury duty. It’s awful. “Please raise your right hand.” I won’t do it. “Please swear.” I won’t do it. That’s ok, you know the jury system… Because the word says in James and in Matthew, the word says, do not swear, do not make promises, let your yes be yes, and your no be no, and anything beyond that, pinky promises, do you promise, anything beyond yes or no, comes from the evil one, hence it’s evil. You say, “you’re really being tough on that,” I’m just telling you what God says, like it or not. And so when I go to court, guess what? The court system is gracious enough to those who decide that they’re going to stand on the word of God, and live by it, they are gracious enough to say, you don’t have to raise your right hand, you don’t have to swear, but do you affirm that you will do such and such and such and such, and my response is, “Yes. Yes I will.” Amen. I’m thankful to the court system we live under. But that’s just a little example. When you read the word of God, read it and say, no matter what I read, no matter how hard it is, and that’s not hard, I mean come on, I just gave that, kind of for humor, I mean, it’s true, but that’s not hard. No matter what you read, and no matter how hard it is, that you are going to live by it. And if you do that, I promise you, the longer you do that, the easier it will be for you to know what God’s will is in the situations that you are praying about.
Now the greek word translated as will, you know your will, God’s will, I searched it in the New Testament, and I looked through the verses, it was 40, 50 verses, that that word appeared, but most of them really didn’t apply to what I’m talking about right here. You know, there’s just a lot of verses that use that word, but very few of them, I’m going to tell you, very few of them, actually, are absolutely about God’s will. You know, sometimes it’s talking about other people’s will, but I’m going to list a couple of those verse s that does talk about God’s will. One of these verses is Ephesians 5:17.
17 So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
You say well that was helpful. That didn’t help me one bit. That’s what I’m trying to do. I don’t know how to understand what the Lord’s will is. You say, how does that help me. Well let me tell you how that helps you. You know everything I just said about living by it, and whatever God tells you to do, you’re going to live by it. We’re going to back up to Ephesians 4:17, and we’re going to read from 4:17 all the way back to 5:21. And I want you to tell me if by reading God’s word, and all what’s leading up to this command to understand what the Lord’s will is, I want you to tell me if in reading this word, you’re able to understand what the Lord’s will is for your life. Ok?
17 Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer walk as the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their thoughts. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them and because of the hardness of their hearts. 19 They became callous and gave themselves over to promiscuity for the practice of every kind of impurity with a desire for more and more. 20 But that is not how you learned about the Messiah, 21 assuming you heard about Him and were taught by Him, because the truth is in Jesus. 22 You took off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires; 23 you are being renewed in the spirit of your minds; 24 you put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth. 25 Since you put away lying, Speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, because we are members of one another. 26 Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and don’t give the Devil an opportunity. 28 The thief must no longer steal. Instead, he must do honest work with his own hands, so that he has something to share with anyone in need. 29 No foul language is to come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear. 30 And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by Him for the day of redemption. 31 All bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice. 32 And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ. 1 Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children. 2 And walk in love, as the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God. 3 But sexual immorality and any impurity or greed should not even be heard of among you, as is proper for saints. 4 Coarse and foolish talking or crude joking are not suitable, but rather giving thanks. 5 For know and recognize this: Every sexually immoral or impure or greedy person, who is an idolater, does not have an inheritance in the kingdom of the Messiah and of God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for God’s wrath is coming on the disobedient because of these things. 7 Therefore, do not become their partners. 8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light — 9 for the fruit of the light results in all goodness, righteousness, and truth — 10 discerning what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to mention what is done by them in secret. 13 Everything exposed by the light is made clear, 14 for what makes everything clear is light. Therefore it is said: Get up, sleeper, and rise up from the dead, and the Messiah will shine on you. 15 Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise— 16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil. 17 So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless actions, but be filled by the Spirit: 19 speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music from your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.
So let me tell you, I did a search through the New Testament of where I could find the word of where it says, “God’s will is...” and there are not very many, but you don’t need a lot of “God’s will is...” because you have a lot of God’s will and they’re all followed by dots, periods. Over and over and over from Genesis to Revelation, God is revealing His will to us throughout the entirety of Scripture. And the more we will walk in what we read, and what God says, “ok, I’m not going to dump everything on you today. You’ve got about a hundred billion sins you need to work out, but I’m not going to give you all hundred billion today, I’m going to give you two today. The Holy Spirit says I’m going to convict you of two today, or one today, or maybe three today, depending on how serious you are about getting rid of these sins. And the Holy Spirit will convict you sin, by sin, and the more that you will humble yourself, and say “Yes Lord, I will walk in your ways, I will do what you ask me to do, or I won’t do whatever you tell me not to do, the more you walk in Him, the more you will be able to determine what God’s will is.
Oh no, Romans 12:1-2, I wanted to do that one, it’s not in here, but that’s ok, I’ve got it right here. (picking up my bible) Romans 12:1-2, this is a little different than what you’ve heard, “Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God,” (Now this is God’s gracious mercy to you, what God has done for you, when you did not deserve it, that He has extended forgiveness of your sin, that you don’t deserve to be forgiven of, and offered an opportunity for you to be in a relationship with Him for eternity, where life will be perfect again, when we don’t deserve life to be perfect again. We deserve to be putting up with the junk that we have to put up with on this earth due to our sinfulness. We don’t even deserve for God to set everything right again. We don’t deserve a lot of the stuff we take for granted. “in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that…” Does anybody know how this verse finishes? So that… and I’m not going to read it yet, we’re going to go back, all of what i’m about to read again is what precedes the “so that.” The “so that,” hinges on what I’m about to read again. “in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”
You say, well I don’t know what God’s will is, well there are certain situations where you may not know what God’s will is. You may be looking at two different colleges to go to, and you really just don’t know which one to go to. You may really not know what God’s will is in certain situations, but what I want to stress to you, is most situations you come across in your life, God has specifically addressed in His word. He has. And for those that he hasn’t, it’s not a big deal. You say, oh, it’s a big deal what college I go to. No it’s not. No it’s not. God will put you where he wants you to be, God will give you the job he wants you to have. It doesn’t matter what college you really got your degree from, if God wants you to work at so and so, you better believe if you skip college, you’re going to end up working at so and so. If you’re willing to submit your life day by day to him, he will lead you where he wants you to be. And for those that you can’t figure it out, don’t worry about it, whatever happens, let it happen. Don’t stress, and don’t worry. But if He’s addressed it, then he’s not going to tell you to do the opposite of what he’s already said. Do you hear me on that? If God has addressed, whatever it is in your life, in this word, and he says do this, or don’t do this, you will never, ever, ever, hear the spirit of God say to you, but in your case, I want you to do the opposite. That’s not God. That’s satan. God will not counter His word. He doesn’t say, I want you to live a holy life, but for you, you don’t have to live a holy life, because I love you so much, and I’ll forgive you, and it’s ok, you don’t really have to try to live a holy life. He’ll never tell you that. And don’t ever take any of his mercy and goodness for granted, ever. If we want our prayers answered according to Jesus in John 15, then we do have to pray according to his will, and I’m telling you there are just some times that we just don’t know what his will is going to be. You may love somebody, who’s dying, and you desperately want them to be saved, and you really don’t know if God’s will is, that he will miraculously save this person, and bring glory to him, or if he’s going to bring him home, and heal him there. Sometimes we just don’t know, but if we will stay in this word, and if we will pour our hearts out to God sincerely like Jesus did in Gethsemane, Jesus sincerely poured his heart out to God, He will answer our prayer, and often times he will give us that sense of assurance in which we will know what he’s decided. He will do that often times.
But as James says, you don’t have because you don’t ask, and you ask and don’t receive because you ask for wrong motives to spend on your own self, on your evil desires. We also see that sometimes we ask for things and pray for things, that are absolutely not in accordance with what God has already revealed his will to be. And he’s not going to answer those prayers, and we can’t fault God, when God doesn’t answer the way we want him to answer every time we pray to him. If there’s a fault, it’s on our part, or there’s not a fault at all, but we can’t blame God and fault God for doing us wrong or doing us injustice, if we prayed for something a certain way, and he didn’t answer it the way we asked. And I don’t remember who the preacher was, but I’m sure you heard it before, “If we could know what God knows, then we would pray the way God prays in ever situation.” And sometimes we wouldn’t ask for the things we ask for. Sometimes we ask for things, but if we could see life in eternity from where God sees it, sometimes, that would in itself, would change a lot of our prayers. And we would realize, you know what I shouldn’t have been asking for that all along, and I don’t really want that. In our Sunday School lesson this morning we read where [40:02]