Let me give you a few things I have learned concerning The Will of God as I have studied scripture as well as put into practice the simple instructions God’s Word asks us to obey.
Many answers in life involve using discernment and our best judgment after having been discipled by constant contact with Scripture and its principles. The bible is a covenantal work and will in which we pray to experience that which God has promised.
1. Asking what most glorifies God in any particular action and always choosing the most excellent way.
2. Studying Scripture to see what it has to say, either directly or by the process by which we experience the promises of Scripture.
3. Through a renewed mind employing the reality of Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.
4. Only having done these three things first, it is dangerous to start here, should we then ask what “burdens” God may have placed on our hearts, or what may have “cornered” us into allowing no room but to go in a certain direction.
Several more ingredients to make this a more feasible plan of action.
Always be patient when pursuing and discovering The Will of God. That God leads is a promise Psalm 25:9, “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.” but there is no promise that such guidance is always instantaneous. Waiting on the Lord is the Bibles constant exhortation.
Always be prepared to discover that God’s will may not be the compatible with what we want. Our emotions are never a safe chaperon and the wise Follower of Christ will not trust the voice that always speaks of ease and convenience. It is one thing to know what the will of God might be, another to do it! What the third petition of the Lord’s Prayer asks is that God’s will might be done. The issue is one of submission and obedience on our part. There is a sense in which God’s will is always done, and our part in this is to accept it. Praying, “Your will be done” in this case is asking God to give humble hearts that we don’t find ourselves complaining about certain parts of His will as it unfolds in our life. But there is an invitation as well in which the will of God calls us to action, to be obedient to a particular direction. Praying, “Your will be done” in this case means to submit our will to His in order to gain the strength necessary to do what He asks.
Both of these aspects of God’s Will are clear in the life of our Christ in Luke 22:42 when He cried, “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done” Jesus was revealing something intensely personal. Having withdrawn to pray, He had thrown Himself prostrate on the ground becoming so exhausted by the ordeal that we read of angel appearing to strengthen Him. Resuming to pray the Greek speaks of Him being in “agony” agonia sweat falls like drops of blood from His brow. The book of Hebrews, reflecting on this moment, speaks of the tenderness of Jesus struggle Hebrews 5:7 – “…who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear…”
It is a depiction of man at the end of his rope as he reflects on the full implications of The Will of God for the Follower of Jesus. We would never dare to minimize the reality of Jesus’ request that, if it be possible, some other way be found for the redemption of God’s people! Only to arrive at the certain conclusion that there is not, Jesus resolves to both submit to and be obedient to the demand that the Love and Will of God have now been made clear, and the words, ‘not My will, but Yours be done” are some of the most inspirational in the entire body of Scripture.
Several significant truths surface as a result: The instinctive recoil upon discovering how difficult the will of God may appear to be is not necessarily ungodly. There is nothing ungodly about Jesus’ own handling of difficulty and trial. He insists we are to take up a cross, never does He suggest that taking that cross will be convenient and work its way around our schedules. Paul could pray three times for the removal of the thorn in the flesh, before learning that to remove an uncomfortable circumstance from Paul’s life was not the Will of God.
Second, submitting to God’s will is rarely instantaneous; it is often a process that leads us to His promises. In my case the invasion of sinful responses: stubbornness, distrustfulness, anger and resentment, all of which make the process even more difficult. In Jesus’ case, none of these are present, and yet, there remains a process, through much internal conflict, He yields to the Will of God. What is brilliant and awe-inspiring about this is that God does not disapprove of that part of the struggle in which we are determining for sure that this is His will.
The Will of God for our lives is hardly ever given in full at any one time. There is a sense in which Jesus knew the Love of God would bring Him to the Cross from the time of His birth. But the full reality of his mission did not become apparent until Gethsemane. It is here that reality becomes crystal clear. I want to read for you a thought from James Stewart a Scottish Theologian who wrote in his book The Strong Name – “It is a glorious phrase that He lead captivity captive, the very triumph of His foes meant He would use their dark achievements to serve His purpose not theirs. They nailed Him to the tree not knowing that by their very act they were bringing the world to His feet. They gave Him a cross not guessing that He would make it His throne. The threw Him outside the gates to die not knowing at the very moment Angels were lifting up all the gates of the universe that the King of Glory could come in. They tried to root out His doctrines, not knowing that doing so was actually implanting the imperishable seed of salvation into the hearts of men. They very Name they were trying to destroy, they thought they had God with His back against the wall, pinned, helpless and defeated, they did not know it was God Himself who tracked Himself down to that point! He did not execute His Will and conquer in spite of the mystery of evil, He accomplished His will and conquered through their darkness.”
Hebrews 9:16-17 - In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living.
Like a will that takes effect when someone dies, the new covenant was put into action at Jesus’ death. His death marked the transition from the old plan to the new one, canceling the old obligations and accompanying sins, and summoning the heirs to receive the eternal inheritance that was promised them. He brought together God and his people in this new way.
So are we willing to be submissive without complaint and obedient to that expression of the Will of God that has become clear to us. In heaven, as the prayer so wonderfully reminds us, God’s will is perfectly done. There is no sin there to disturb His will. We still have internal opposition and frustration. Therefore, our prayer that produces action is this world might be more transformed to that perfect pattern of heaven. That is our longing.