When you think of God’s will, what comes to mind — a formula, a connect-the-dots picture or a relationship?
Many of us fall prey to thinking that God’s will is the ultimate “if-then” formula. If I do this, then God must, always will do this. Jesus did not see the will of God like this. Just look at the words he used to describe people who were doing his will. In Mark 3:35, he said that the people who do his will are his brother and sister and mother. John 14:41 tells us that our obedience is a result of our love and, in turn, we are loved by God. John 15:14 reminds us that we are his friends if we obey his commands. Did you notice that none of these are mathematical terms? They are all relational terms. When we live by the will of God, God deeply loves us like we do our friends and family.
We also see God’s will as a cosmic connect the dots. Do you remember connect-the-dots pictures from when you were growing up? The goal was to draw an image by connecting dots that were neatly numbered to aid the budding artist. In just moments, you or I were able to draw perfect bears, flowers or clown faces. We became artists simply because we could connect the dots. Is God’s will a cosmic connect the dots? Yes and no. Yes, because God has a plan and a future that he has designed specifically for us. No, because if you make a mistake while drawing connect-the-dots pictures, the whole picture is messed up and can never be completely fixed. You will always see the error. The same cannot be said of God. You can live God’s will today no matter what you did yesterday. God can redeem and restore your life to his perfect plan at any point in time as you turn your life over to him.
Rather than looking for equations to explain God’s will or a connect-the-dots experience with God, look instead to an intimate relationship with him. God wants for us to discover and live out his will through a relationship with him because, at the core, God is relational. My mentor and friend Rich Hurst put it this way, “Christianity offers intimacy with the God of the Bible, the God of creation, the God of history. Furthermore, the God of Christianity is a God who seeks us out. He wants to be intimate with us, and he pushes us to be known.” Don’t miss the intimate invitation to a relationship with God as you discover his will.
One of the primary ways of building your intimate relationship with God and discovering his plan for your life is to pray for your daily needs, concerns and even wants. We pray and trust the Lord because God provides in every situation. God’s provision in every circumstance helps us to overcome the main obstacle we face in finding God’s will through our daily circumstances. That obstacle is worry.
In Matthew 6, Jesus teaches that trusting his provision is the only solution to the worry of our lives. He draws on pictures from nature — the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. The birds don’t store up seed, yet they eat. The lilies don’t labor yet they are clothed even more beautifully than history’s richest man — Solomon. God provided their splendor. Rather than worrying about the things that matter most to us, seek God and his kingdom. He knows our needs and will provide for us in every circumstance. He concluded that we should not worry about tomorrow because today has enough troubles of its own. How true is that!
To overcome worry and to live a life that sees God in the everyday circumstances of life, we need to learn to live a life of disciplined prayer. Maybe it’s a no-brainer, but I think it needs to be said. If you are seeking God’s will without prayer, you will never find it. It is through prayer that God will do two things. He will give us peace and he will reveal his will to us. Peace comes and worry departs as we present our requests to God with an attitude of thanksgiving. This is no ordinary peace. It is a peace that is unexplainable and indescribable. It surpasses all understanding.
To experience this peace through prayer, develop an ongoing conversation with God throughout your day. It is possible even in the fast-paced, multi-tasking, gotta-meet-a-deadline world that we live in to pray consistently throughout your day. You can pray when you wake up that God would bless your day and that you would honor him. You can pray as you drive to work or to school. This prayer should be done with your eyes open. Think through your day and ask God to be with you in all of the things you have to do. When things are good during the day, say thanks. When you need help, encouragement, or insight, ask for it. As you are driving home, reflect on your day and talk with God about it. You may also want to use this time to talk to God about the relationships in your life.