I recently had a conversation with a friend regarding God's will. We expressed the desire to walk in God's will but admitted to being unsure of what his will actually is.
What is God’s will for us and how can we pray for it to be done? In a nutshell, God's will can be defined as those things God desires.
What Does ‘Thy Will Be Done' Mean?
All of us have plans. Everyone reading this article has desires and wants. Regardless of our gender, age, socioeconomic status, experiences, political affiliation, or marital status, we want something from God. And if we’re honest, we always think our needs and wants are most pressing.
Christians need to understand God fully expects His will to be done on the earth as it is in heaven. It's not enough for us to acknowledge God's will. We need to ensure His will is done. Further, we need to ensure His will is done even when His will contradicts our own will.
In Matthew 6:10, we see Jesus teaching his disciples, and us, how to pray. He said, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." Ultimately, we should be looking for God's will to be done in everything.
When we pray "Thy will be done," we are expressing our willingness and submission to God's plan and purpose. It signifies a surrender of one's own desires, wishes, and plans to align with what they believe is God's divine will or plan for their life.
Yet, I can't count how many times I've gone to God in prayer with my list of petitions. "Lord, bless me, my family, do this, do that." I have a laundry list of tasks that I need Him to take care of NOW. Have any of you prayed this way? We approach God like He's a genie in a bottle, fully expecting, demanding even, that He grants our every wish. Although we have pressing needs, our agendas, and things we need to accomplish, we need to realize those things don't always align with God's will for our lives.
In essence, when we pray "Thy will be done," we are acknowledging that God's wisdom and purpose is greater than our own, and we acknowledge the need to seek God's guidance, direction, and intervention in their lives. It is an expression of faith, trust, and the desire to align one's actions and decisions with what they believe God wants for them. It reflects a humble and submissive attitude towards God's authority and sovereignty. We do not pray for my will be done but thy will be done.
‘Not My Will But Your Will’ - How to Seek God’s Will
The Lord's Prayer beings with "Our father who art in heaven". Before we even ask for God's will to be done, it's important to acknowledge not on God's power and authority but also our personal and intimate relationship with Him. We can approach our loving father in reverence and awe - the very foundation of our spiritual life being in close communion with the creator of the universe. As you pray thy will be done, here are some ways to actively seek out God's will:
- Ask for His wisdom and insight in making decisions and discerning His will. Share your desires, concerns, and questions with Him.
- Study the scriptures to gain insight into God's principles and teachings. The Bible provides guidance on how to live in alignment with His will.
- Quiet your heart and mind to hear His voice. God may speak to you through a still, small voice.
- Be patient in seeking God's will. It may not always be revealed immediately. Trust in His timing and continue to seek His guidance persistently.
- If you discover that your actions or decisions have strayed from God's will, repent and realign yourself with His purpose. Seek forgiveness and make necessary changes.
- Pay attention to the circumstances and opportunities that present themselves in your life. Sometimes, God's will is evident through doors that open or close and through the situations He places you in.
Seeking and following God's will instead of our own is imperative to Christians. While there are several ways to seek and discern God's will, let's take a deeper look at studying the Bible, praying, and following the Holy Spirit’s leading.
What Does the Bible Say About God’s Will?
The Bible is full of God’s will. For example, the Bible teaches us about God’s calling, sanctification, and His will regarding thanksgiving.
For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. ~ 1 Peter 2:15
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:18
God has called each of us. Do you believe that? God almighty called you and chose you to perform works of righteousness for His glory. Paul declared with boldness and confidence that he’d been “...called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God...” (1 Corinthians 1:1).
God called us through His will as well. And we can walk in the same boldness and confidence that Paul demonstrated. We never have to apologize for being Christians or for walking in the callings to which God has called us. Seek God for your calling and purpose. Doing so will help you walk in obedience to our Heavenly Father.
How the Holy Spirit Helps Us Understand God’s Will
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Romans 8:14).
There are times in the Christian's life that the Bible is silent on a particular topic, and prayer doesn't seem to bring the answers we're seeking. It's been during those times that the Holy Spirit leads me through opened and closed doors (opportunities). About nine years ago, I was seeking the Lord regarding a job closer to home and found what appeared to be a perfect position. However, the job required weekly travel. I was a wife, mom, and Bible teacher. The travel would have required me to forsake all three, and I was unwilling to do so. I told the employer about one of my friends and sadly restarted my job search, convinced the only perfect job had slipped through my fingers. Through the Holy Spirit's leading, I obtained a new job working from home within a month. The new position allowed me quality time with my husband and children and allowed me to continue teaching Bible study. The Holy Spirit desires to lead and guide us to God's will. We need to follow His leading, trusting that God's will is always better than our own.
God’s Will Is for Our Sanctification
“For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3).”
We never have to wonder if God desires us to walk uprightly. We never have to wonder if fornication, adultery, or other sins are ok with God. They aren't. It's never His will for us to commit presumptuous, intentional sin. Indeed, sanctification is God's will for our lives.
God’s Will Is for Us to Give Thanks in Everything
“In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Giving God thanks when I was diagnosed with breast cancer was one of the hardest things in my life. But it was also one of the things I needed to do most. Giving God thanks helped take my mind off my fear, my pain, my pity party. Giving thanks to the Lord strengthened me, comforted me, and helped me fight through the cancer treatments. Thus, I realized giving thanks isn't necessarily for God. It's for us to edify our spirits.
God’s Will for Our Prayers
In addition to studying the Bible, prayer can help us discern God’s will as well. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, Jesus included “Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven" to teach the disciples then, as well as His disciples today, on what to focus in prayer. This portion of the Lord's Prayer reminds us that God isn't obligated to move on behalf of our agendas. He moves according to His purposes and plans. When we bring the Lord our prayer list, we need to remember that His will is ultimately done. As Christians, we should desire His will over our will anyway.
A Prayer for God’s Will to Be Done
Seeking and discerning God’s will is imperative for Christians, so we aren't deceived by the enemy. We also need to know God's will so we can walk in obedience. Here’s a brief prayer for God’s will to be done:
"Father, I come to you now in all humility and meekness. Laying aside my goals, plans, agendas, wants, needs, and will. Lord, regardless of how I feel, I desire Your will be done in my life. Lord, use me as you see fit. I'll go where you send me. I'll speak what you tell me to speak. I'll do what you ask me to do. Father, make me sensitive to Your Spirit and leading. Help me to recognize Your voice. Help me to obey Your voice. Help me to say with Jesus, not my will, but Your will be done. Thank You for having patience with me and loving me.
In Jesus’s name, Amen.
Aretha Grant serves her local church as a bible teacher and elder. She loves writing and is the author of Overcomer: 25 Keys to Walking Victoriously. Aretha resides in Hagerstown, MD with her husband and two youngest children. You can read Aretha’s blog at www.arethagrant.com.