Praying God’s will is being honest with him about what we want in prayer, but also surrendering our lives and the outcome of our prayers to him. It’s wanting our lives to align with God’s will more than our own desires.
Praying God’s Will
1 John 5:14-15 says, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”
This seems like such a crazy, cavernous promise. Pray according to the will of God, and your prayers will be answered.
God’s will is for us to know him in a personal way and to live for him. When we pray God’s will for our lives, we are setting aside what we want and desire, and we’re asking for what he desires instead.
The best example of setting aside your desires and praying God’s will is found in Luke 22 where Jesus withdrew from his disciples to pray. He knew he would suffer a horrible death for the sake of mankind. He prayed what any human facing death might pray, but he surrendered his will to God’s will. Luke 22:42 says, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
Prayer is a communication process between us and God. He wants us to talk to him. It’s just like making a phone call or sending a text to your best friend—it’s direct communication with God.
Billy Graham answered the question about prayer this way: “Prayer is spiritual communication between man and God, a two-way relationship in which man should not only talk to God but also listen to Him. It is like a child’s conversation with his father. It is natural for a child to ask his father for the things he needs.”
God’s Will Definition
The will of God (or Divine Will) is the idea that God has a plan for people (Jeremiah 29:11-13). This is the greatest discovery we will ever make – God has a purpose and plan for each human being; past, present and future. He has a general and specific purpose for each of us.
“There is a difference between the general will of God, which is His ultimate plan for us, and His will for specific people and situations. The first [general will] relates to our eternal life, and the latter [specific] relates to events that will not change our salvation,” Kelly O’Dell Stanley said.
When we want something, we will for it to happen. God’s will is a little more complex because there is his “sovereign will” and his “moral will.”
God’s Sovereign Will: This is based upon the fact God is the creator of heaven and earth and has full authority to do or allow what he desires.
- "Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all." (1 Chronicles 29:11-12).
- “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases,” (Psalm 115:3).
God’s Moral Will: This is his desires and commands revealed throughout Scripture.
- "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others,” (Philippians 2:3-4).
Our job is to pray and seek God’s will when we face decisions. We then surrender our will to God’s just as Christ did.
Understanding God’s Will
The first step to understanding and applying God’s will in our lives is to want to do his will. Romans 12:1-2 reminds us that everything we do can be an act of worship to God.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform 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,” (Romans 12:1-2).
The way to better understand the will of God in your life is choosing to live your life like he commands in his Word. There are God-honoring ways to do your job, to love your spouse, to talk, and to talk care of your body. Submitting ourselves to God is worship to him and it renews our minds to be able to understand God’s will.
Here are a couple verses where God reveals his will for all Christians:
- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us how to apply God’s will to our lives: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
- As does Micah 6:8, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Praying the will of God in your life means to submit your life to his will. It means laying down your dreams, desires, and wants because you would rather see his will and purpose happen instead of your own.
Christians tend to get stuck on trying to figure out the will of God for their lives. Too often we worry God’s will for our lives is like walking a tight rope—any misstep will bring doom upon us. But there are many Bible verses about God’s faithfulness to answer our prayers and to guide us, so we don’t need to worry about “walking the tight rope.”
- “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
- “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5)
Heather Riggleman calls Nebraska home (Hey, it’s not for everyone). She writes to bring through bold truths and raw faith about marriage, career, mental health, depression, faith, relationships, celebration and heartache. Heather is a former national award-winning journalist and is the author of Mama Needs a Time Out and Let’s Talk About Prayer. Her work has been featured on Proverbs 31 Ministries, MOPS, Today's Christian Woman and Focus On the Family. You can find her at www.heatherriggleman.com.
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Ben White