Praying in the Will of God
We must discover the will of God and pray accordingly. Unfortunately, many Christians pray for things that are in direct opposition to God’s will. Learning how to pray in line with God results in a more powerful and effective prayer life.
1 John 5:14-15 – “This is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have desired of Him.”
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Things We Can Have Confidence In
1. We know God loves us. God loves you. Nothing can ever thwart His love for us. No matter what you are going through, and no matter what you’ve done, His love for you is unwavering. The Word of God is “yes and amen” concerning this (2 Corinthians 1:20). Consider the following encouraging verses:
Romans 8:31-32 – “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”
Romans 8:35, 37-39 – “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
1 Peter 5:7 – “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”
1 John 3:1 – “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God.”
2. God will finish what He started. Paul said, “I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). Again, “In no way alarmed by your opponents, which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God” (Philippians 1:28).
God does all things well. He doesn’t start something and leave it unfinished. No matter how much you are struggling or how many battles you are encountering, know what God began in you He will finish. He promises to bring you through to a successful conclusion! “For whom he did foreknow, He also did predestine to be conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29).
3. God answers prayers. Paul said, “For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father” and “In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of Him” (Ephesians 2:18, Ephesians 3:12). The writer of Hebrews also stressed, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
Notice, we are to go before the throne of grace with boldness to obtain mercy. Mercy indicates we have done something wrong that we are in need of mercy for. When we mess up we are inclined to be shy, withdrawn and standoffish. Instead, we should, all the more so, come boldly before God in prayer. We can because His blood was shed for us. “Having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus” (Hebrews 10:19).
The Will of God
God’s will should be paramount in the life of every Christian. We must surrender completely to God’s will as Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46). “Your will be done” may be the hardest words one could ever say. Once we have completely surrendered to the will of God, we must ask God to give us a passion for His will.
Paul had such a passion. When at Phillip’s home in Caesarea, Agabus took Paul’s belt, bound his own hands and feet, and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles” (Acts 21:11). Those present begged Paul not to go to Jerusalem. Paul said, “What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. So when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done” (Acts 21:13-14).
The will of God is one of the primary keys to seeing our prayers answered. Jesus sets forth the will of God at the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer. “Your kingdom come. Your will be done in earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Our goal must be the implementation of the will of God in the affairs of men. When praying the will of God, we have confidence and assurance that He hears us and “WE KNOW that WE HAVE THE PETITIONS that WE HAVE DESIRED OF HIM” (1 John 5:15). A few important points to remember:
- If we pray in opposition to God’s will He turns a deaf ear to our prayers. It does not mean He can’t hear us, but He refuses to listen to any prayer that opposes what He wants.
- God eagerly listens to prayer that lines up with His will. He’s actually sitting back anxiously waiting for us to ask Him for the right things. He’s not only wanting us to ask, but is longing to answer our requests.
- Praying God’s will gives us supernatural faith to see the results of our petition. “WE KNOW that WE HAVE THE PETITIONS that WE HAVE DESIRED OF HIM” (1 John 5:15). Read also James 4:2-3, James 1:5-8 and Mark 11:22-24.
Things We Should Pray for in the Will of God
There are a few things scripture tells us we can pray that are clearly God’s will. Familiarize yourself with the scriptures and points listed below and even memorize them – add them to your prayer list. These are clearly things we know to be the will of God. I am sure there are many other things you can find to pray that are consistent with the will of God but this gives us a place to begin.
When praying I often quote them to God in prayer. He exhorts us, “Put Me in remembrance, let us argue our case together; State your cause, that you may be proved right” (Isaiah 43:26). Speaking the Word out loud while praying reminds God of His promise, builds our faith and releases the power of God’s Word into the spiritual realm. God’s Word will not return to Him void or empty, but will accomplish the purpose for which it is sent out (Isaiah 55:10-11).
1. Salvation of the lost. How can we know we have the petitions that we have asked of Him? Don’t we have free will to reject Him if we want? Yes, of course we do, but we typically take the path of least resistance. God will so move in the lives of those we are praying for that it will ultimately be easier for them to surrender to Him than to resist Him.
“Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance” (Psalms 2:8).
“God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).
“God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
Bind the strong man in their lives (Mark 3:27), pray persistently for the Holy Spirit to draw them to Jesus (John 6:44) and stand in faith for their salvation. “For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:39).
2. Sanctification. “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification” (1 Thessalonians 4:3). Also read 1 Peter 1:15-16 and 2 Corinthians 6:17. It’s God’s will that we be set apart from sin, self, this world, and set apart unto Him and His service. Below are a few things that can aid us in the sanctification process:
- God’s Word (John 17:17-18).
- Alertness (1 Corinthians 10:13, Matthew 26:41).
- Humility (1 Corinthians 10:12, Matthew 26:31-35).
- Prayer (Matthew 6:13, Matthew 26:41).
3. Healing. Spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental wholeness is promised to us in the Word and is provided for in the atonement. Study, meditate on and memorize the following verses:
“I, the Lord, am your healer” (Exodus 15:26).
“Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-5).
“If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also quicken (give life to) your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11).
“And not only they, but ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:23).
“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven” (James 5:13-16).
4. Our daily needs. Jesus told us to pray for “our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). We are to ask for our daily needs to be met. “Daily bread” signifies each day as needs arise. This is the life of faith. It’s not what we need for the week, month or year, but for each day. Paul said, “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). Notice, He will supply all your need, not greed.
God does, however, desire to go above and beyond just our daily needs. Notice, it is in proportion to “His riches in glory” (Philippians 4:19). “God is able to (and will) make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8). “It is He who gives you power to get wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:18). “The wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just” (Proverbs 13:22).
5. Unity in the body. Jesus prayed, “That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:21). Dr. Francis Schaeffer said that if we are not experiencing unity we are giving the world the right to judge that the Father did not send the Son to be the Savior of the world. On the other hand, if we are unified, we testify through our unity that Jesus indeed is the Savior of the world. Schaeffer called it the great apologetic. Below are a few things that will assist us in maintaining unity in the body of Christ:
- Be under the covering of the five-fold ministry (Ephesians 4:11-16).
- Flee religiosity and sectarianism (1 Corinthians 1:10-18).
- Focus on preaching the gospel (1 Corinthians 1:10-18).
- Focus on our common denominator, the person of Christ (1 John 1:1-3).
- Take a stand against divisiveness and doctrinal error (Romans 16:17).
- Love one another (John 13:34-35).
- Forgive one another (Matthew 18:21-22).
- Cover the sins of others (Proverbs 17:22, 1 Peter 1:22, 1 Peter 4:8).
- Togetherness. “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place” (Acts 2:1). Unity brings with it togetherness.
6. Direction and wisdom. When we pray for wisdom and direction we must accept by faith that God is showing us the way we should go and walk in it (Proverbs 3:5-6, James 1:5-8). Faith must be appropriated. “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Even after Paul was given a vision of what to do, he had to conclude in faith he was moving in the right direction. “Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them” (Acts 16:10).
7. Laborers in the harvest. Jesus instructed the disciples to pray for laborers. He said, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38). It’s significant that Jesus told them to pray for laborers and they were the ones He sent. As we pray for laborers we must also ask, “Lord, is it me you are desiring to send?” When the Lord asked, “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” Isaiah responded, “Here am I! Send me” (Isaiah 6:8). What will your response be?
8. The Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him” (Luke 11:13)? We can pray for the infilling of the Holy Spirit and be confident that God will grant us our request (Luke 11:9-13). He will not allow the devil to give us a counterfeit.
Serpent and scorpion in verses 11 and 12 were always figurative of the devil or demonic powers. In other words, God will not allow the devil to give us a counterfeit when we come to Him requesting the Holy Spirit. We can pray for the baptism of the Holy Spirit with confidence and He will give us just what we request.
We can also pray for His anointing as we serve Him and know He will endue us with power from on high. The early church waited and sought God for such an enduement of power and received just what they requested (Acts 1:4-2:4, Acts 4:23-31). We should expect nothing less.
9. Boldness. We can pray for boldness in our faith and witness knowing we are praying in the will of God and expect we will receive the request we have asked of Him. The apostles had been arrested and threatened to not speak or teach in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:18). When they were released, they went to their own company and “lifted their voices to God with one accord” (Acts 4:24). “And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the Word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31).
After we pray for boldness, we must speak the Word of God in faith. As we move in faith and begin to speak, we can expect the Holy Spirit to anoint us with boldness. I’ve experienced this time and time again, as I stepped behind the pulpit, trembling, to preach God’s Word. The Holy Spirit fell upon me enduing me with power from on high (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).
10. Our enemies. Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44). Not only should we pray for our enemies, we should also bless them. This is a powerful way to overcome bitterness and resentment in our lives. We overcome the evil others bring against us with good. Paul wrote, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:20-21).
11. Our leaders. Paul told Timothy, “I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). We know it’s the will of God to pray for our leaders. Whether it’s our pastor, congress, or the president, God wants us to pray for them regularly. If you are not consistently praying for your leaders, you have no right to complain about them.
12. Spiritual sight. The psalmist cried, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law” (Psalms 119:18). This should be the cry of our heart every day when we read and study our Bible. The god of this world is constantly trying to blind our eyes to the wondrous things in God’s Word (2 Corinthians 4:4). Let’s counteract him by asking the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to God’s truth and wonders. Besides prayer, there are a few things we must do to gain spiritual sight:
- Be born again. “The natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). We cannot grasp spiritual truths apart from a spiritual awakening, being born again (John 3:1-8).
- Rid ourselves of religiosity. There’s nothing that blinds us from seeing spiritual truths like religiosity (2 Corinthians 3:14-18). We must strip the veil of religion from our hearts and spirits if we want to experience true spiritual sight. Religion is man made while true spirituality is God given.
- Be willing to walk in the truth God gives us. Jesus said, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17). If we step out and obey the truth God reveals to us, He will continue to give us additional light. If we do not walk in His revealed light, no further revelation will be given. Matthew 25:29 says, “For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.”
13. The peace of Jerusalem. In Psalms 122:6 we are told to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. This we must do. Sadly, Jerusalem will not see lasting peace until the Prince of Peace (Jesus) returns and sets up His kingdom. Romans 16:20 says, “And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.” Let’s pray for His soon return. Amen!