You cannot pray in faith, when you do not know the will of God.
“If it be thy will……” is a much used phrase amongst Christians and certainly it is important to know what God’s will is. Much of the time though, when the phrase, “If it be thy will……” is used, the will of God is not actually a mystery. If we as Christians would just read the Bible with open hearts, instead of with our religious glasses on, we would know what the will of God was on a range of subjects. The result of this would be that we could pray prayers in faith, without adding somewhere in the prayer, “If it be thy will……“. The reason why this phrase should be avoided in much of our prayers is because you cannot pray in faith, when you do not know the will of God.
There are plenty of circumstances when we will not find a direct answer in the Bible
There are times though when it is entirely appropriate to be asking God if something is His will. The problem is that the very same Christians who are regularly adding “If it be thy will…..” to their prayers are not seeking God’s will at the times that it is appropriate. There are plenty of circumstances when we will not find a direct answer in the Bible, it is in these circumstances that we should be seeking God for His will. In Joshua Chapter 9, the children of Israel are in the process of taking possession of the promised land. Before they crossed the Jordan river, they had received a very specific instruction from God, “The Lord your God will put these nations under your power. And you will defeat them. You must destroy them completely. Don’t make an agreement with them or show them mercy” (Easy to Read Version), and that is what they had been doing. But in Joshua 9 the children of Israel are approached by a group of men wearing worn out clothes and carrying provision that are well past their use-by dates. They tell Joshua that they have come from a very far country, which is why they look like they do and why their food has gone mouldy and they request for Joshua to make a peace agreement with them. Joshua and the leaders of Israel consider the evidence and make agreement with the men, “Joshua agreed to make peace with them. He agreed to let them live. The leaders of Israel agreed with this promise of Joshua“, Joshua 9:15 (Easy to Read Version).
They would not break their word.
But they made a mistake. Joshua 9:14 in The Message reads, “The men of Israel looked them over and accepted the evidence. But they didn’t ask God about it“. Joshua & the other leaders didn’t think that they needed to speak to God, it seemed pretty obvious that the men had come a very long way and were not from the Promised Land that they were in the process of possessing. Except that they had actually come from Gibeon, a city that was only three days journey away. The whole thing had been a ruse to trick the Israelites into making peace with them, and it had worked because the Israelites did not stop to find out the will of God. In their ignorance, the Israelites had made an agreement that God told them not to make. There is however a lesson that we can learn from their reaction: “The cities were not harmed because of the vow which the leaders of Israel had made before the Lord God. The people of Israel were angry with their leaders because of the peace treaty. But the leaders replied, ‘We have sworn before the Lord God of Israel that we will not touch them, and we won’t'”, Joshua 9:18-19 (The Living Bible). The Israelite leaders were men of honour, they had made a foolish agreement, but they would not break their word.
God is not responsible for ensuring His will is carried out on the Earth.
The first thing that you need to learn about the will of God, is that it is possible to know the will of God is. Romans 12:2 in the Good News Translation says, “Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God“. So if anyone tells you that we can’t know the will of God, because God moves in mysterious ways – don’t believe them. In the Old Testament, not every could seek the will of God, only certain people such as the leaders, prophets, priests etc. But we do not live in Old Testament times, we are New Testament believers and we have the Holy Spirit inside us, directing and guiding us – any born again believer can find out the will of God in any given situation. The first way to find out God’s will is through His written Word. I saw a post on Facebook recently requesting prayer for someone who was in hospital. One of the comments ended with “We will not accept anything less than the perfect will of God“. Now that sounds like a powerful, confident statement and it would be – if you actually knew what the will of God was. But when you don’t know whether it’s God’s will for someone to live or die, to walk or to be in a wheelchair, it is virtually impossible to pray an effective prayer. In a situation like this, it is no good praying, “Thy will be done……“, it is not God who is responsible for ensuring His will is carried out on the Earth, it is us. God has given us the authority and we need to be finding out His will and then using that authority. For a subject like healing, it is very easy to find out God’s will as the Bible is very clear on the subject. It only becomes complicated when we listen to Man’s unbiblical religious reasonings as to why some Christians stay sick, diseased, disabled, or die.
Be expecting the answer to come.
The second way to know the will of God is through the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Colossians 3:15 in the Good News Translation puts it this way, “The peace that Christ gives is to guide you in the decisions you make“. When you are faced with an decision, the Holy Spirit will give you an inner sense of peace when you are making the right decision and a lack of peace when what you are considering doing would be the wrong decision, that feeling that you just don’t feel right about something. It simply takes practice to become proficient in listening to these inner feelings. The third way to know God’s will is to ask Him. James 1:5 in the Contemporary English Version says, “If any of you need wisdom, you should ask God, and it will be given to you. God is generous and won’t correct you for asking“. The answer may come through a number of ways. You may suddenly know what to do, you may be reading the Bible and something will jump out at you, you may be listening to a sermon and something that is said speaks directly into your situation. The point is, once you have prayed, be expecting the answer to come and be listening out for it.
Never again wonder what God’s will is, we are not supposed to be wondering around in the dark. Make the instructions in Proverbs 3:5-6 something that you live by: “If you want favor with both God and man, and a reputation for good judgment and common sense, then trust the Lord completely; don’t ever trust yourself. In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success” (The Living Bible).
If you have any further questions or thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment.
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