Let me ask you a question.
In prayer, how do we determine what we should request of God?
Many years ago, I read an explanation about the passage in I John 5:14. “And this is the confidence that we have in him. That if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us. And if we know that he hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions we desired of him. ” The writer broke that prayer down into a rock-solid method of knowing how to pray. The answer: pray according to the will of God.
So, we then ask, “How do we determine God’s will?”
The Secret Formula
You can go crazy trying to figure that out in a clinical way. Believe me, I have tried. Self-inflicted, self-analysis and self-discipline have brought me much pain over the years. Trying to get my heart, mind and body into alignment with the will of God. And there is no end to that. Satan loves our pre-occupation with trying to improve “the self”.
The temptation here is to think that God wants us to follow a formula. Follow it and we get what we want. It could be expressed as, “If I do this, then God will do that.”
In an earlier post, I mentioned the folly of trying to harness our own will-power to accomplish spiritual things. That same folly applies here. We can try to reason this out to our own destruction. To try to come up with a concrete list of will-of-God prayers. So that we can then plug them into our “holy software” and get our stuff from God.
One caution about prayer is that it is not a mechanism to get stuff. That is hard to take when we need stuff, though. Which is all the time!
Pray without Ceasing
The key is that God wants us to spend time with him.
Meditate on Him. Immerse ourselves in His Word. Listen to Him. Wait on Him.
That means we need to honestly talk with him. And it means to stop pretending to be strong when we are weak. Which is all the time!
But if we think God is ticked off at us, unhappy with us, getting ready to hammer us, then how do we approach him? How are we able to be free and resting in our relationships with him?
Hiking is one of my favorite things. And I find that to be a great time for me to get close to the Lord. I am almost always better off after I do that. The Lord and I get things handled.
But I can only do that when I am resting in His love and acceptance.
Most Christians don’t see this. Most Christians are afraid of all kinds of stuff between God and themselves. They are afraid to live. And they are afraid to die.
A List of Stuff
Now, there are a whole bunch of bad teachings out there about how to live the Christian life. One of the dumbest things we teach is to gather together a heavy list of stuff we must do which is required by one Christian group or another. Then we try to follow that list to please God.
Now, honestly, a list that comes from the scriptures can be good. But, in reality, you won’t be able to keep it. Not really.
I can’t even keep a New Year’s resolution!
The reason is because, He is the One doing the “keeping” of it. And that is only done by our faith in Him. The list is important, but only He can keep it.
It is accomplished by resting in Him and His ability. We must honestly come to Him and depend on Him to live His Life through us. Let Him worry about the list. We focus on Him and His Word.
Then we can talk with Him as a child before our Father. Not trying to pretend with Him. If we can’t talk honestly to God, whom can we talk to? Really. What is the point if we are not worshipping Him “in Spirit and in Truth”?
God knows what we are. He knows what we really want to do. He knows our hearts. Not even an Oscar-winning actor can fake God out.
And when we sin, which is constantly, we acknowledge that before Him and move on. We do not engage in the internal self-punishment that is so common. He has already forgiven us “for all sins forever”. So it is our job to claim that, believe that, rest in that and thank him for it. Praise him.
And then get back on the horse. We’re burning daylight!