Understanding God’s Will
Additionally then, brothers and sisters, we ask and encourage you in the Lord Jesus,
that as you have received instructions from us on how you should live and
please God – as you are doing – do this even more. For you know what commands
we gave you through the Lord Jesus.
For this is God’s will, your sanctification: that you keep away from sexual immorality,
that each of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not with lustful passions,
like the Gentiles, who don’t know God. This means one must not transgress against
and take advantage of a brother or sister in this manner, because the Lord is an
avenger of all these offenses, as we also previously told and warned you.
For God has not called us to impurity but to live with holiness.
1 Thessalonians 4:1-7
“What is God’s will for my life?” Surely most Christians have asked this question. And surely they’ve done more than simply ask; they’ve prayed to know God’s will. Most of the time when we ask the question, we want an answer to a specific issue in our lives. We want to know God’s will about what job we should pursue, what city we should live in, or whom we should marry.
Jesus told us to pray that as God’s kingdom comes on earth, His will would also be done. The accomplishment of God’s will fits hand in glove with the coming of His kingdom, for it’s in God’s kingdom where His will is lovingly and joyfully obeyed. Though it’s good and right for us to seek the answers to specific questions, the plain truth is that the vast majority of God’s will has already been revealed to us. His Word is full of commands that reveal the way we should live and the way we should pray. Consider just one example from Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians:
This is God’s will, your sanctification: that you keep away
from sexual immorality, that each of you knows how to
control his own body in holiness and honor, not with lustful
passions, like the Gentiles, who don’t know God.
1 THESSALONIANS 4:3-5
In other words, we don’t need to pray about whether it’s God’s will for us to be sexually pure; we know without a doubt that God’s will for us, as for every Christian, is to be conformed to the image of Christ. It’s His will that we should be pure
and holy, living in a way that reflects our calling as His children.
The vast majority of us don’t need further education on God’s will; instead, we need to begin living more fully in what we already know God’s will to be. This fact changes the shape of our prayers, both for ourselves and for others.
We can apply this line of Jesus’ Model Prayer—for God’s will to be done— on an individual level. Instead of spending most of our time praying to find out what God’s will is, we might pray instead for courage and perseverance to live inside His revealed will. We might pray that we’ll be pure. That we’ll be faithful husbands and wives. That we’ll lovingly and generously serve the church.
In the same way, we can confidently pray for others inside God’s will. We can ask the Lord for our lost friends and family members to come to know Christ, for we know this is His will. We can pray against systemic injustice that we see around the world, for we also know that God’s will is for justice to reign. We can pray for people in positions of power and authority, knowing that this is God’s will too.
In short, when we read God’s Word, we’re reading His will, and that Word can inform us accordingly.
Excerpted from Steve Gaines, Pray Like This Bible Study. © 2017 Lifeway Press. Used by permission.