From self-will to God’s will

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I sat in the prayer room on the National Day of Prayer read many prayer requests and prayed. I noticed one common thread. The requests were all centered on personal, self-will—what ‘I’ want, what ‘I’ need for God to do. The emphasis was on ‘me’, ‘my’ and ‘mine’.  Please keep reading so that you don’t misunderstand the inspirational enlightenment of this article.  None of the requests had anything to do with God’s will, plan or purpose. There were no requests for ‘more’ of God. There were no prayer requests for spiritual growth, to know God, to have a deeper relationship with Christ, or revival.

Yes, I know the Bible says “…let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6)

Yes, Jesus said, “… ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:8-11; Luke 11:9-13). These passages both speak to the infinite Fatherhood of God and His faithfulness to answer His children who persist in prayer.

However, within the context of Luke 11:9-13, Luke is specific about the infinite Fatherhood of God and what the Father will give if we ask, seek and knock.

11 If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 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 11:11-13 NKJV)

Conclusively, the character of our Father is such that we can always trust Him to give what is good for us according to His sovereign plan and purpose for our lives. Sure, we should let our requests be made known to God. Ask! However, we must refocus and make sure that our will is not the object of our prayer requests based what we ‘think’ is good for us. Sometimes God uses adversity and painful times in our life to bring out the ‘good’ He has purposed for us and even our family. What we pray for and want God to change or fix for us is not always what He has purposed for us.  The will of God must always be the focus. For example, I know several of my Christian sisters who have been healed of cancer as well as some who transitioned although we prayed for their healing. When we look at this from God’s perspective, we can conclude that God’s will was done. He answered our prayer, nevertheless, not according to what we “wanted” (our will), but what He wanted (His will). Still they were healed! The ones He wanted to continue in this life for His purpose were healed.  The ones He called to their eternal home were also healed for His purpose. We do not get to dictate the purpose of God, who works all things according to the counsel of His own will (Eph. 1:11).

I admit, I do not like the challenges of life.  I am sure you don’t either. We do not like to ‘go through’ the process to get where God is taking us.  Yes, we pray asking God to change the situation—make things comfortable, take the pain away. But the more appropriate questions are: Is the situation working for my good? Does the pain have purpose? Is what I am facing for my good although it hurts? What lesson to be learned?  The psalmist said, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statues” (Psalm 119:71). We must take the focus off us—our need and our will. We must refocus on the loving, infinite Fatherhood of God. He is the Sovereign Lord! He is our all-knowing and all-powerful God! He is our faithful Father, who loves us unconditionally. He wants us to ask, seek and knock—be persistent in prayer. However, we must trust Him to answer according to His will, plan and purpose for our lives. He is more concerned about His children than any earthly father and will give the most precious gift of all—Himself, His Holy Spirit.

 

 

 

©2018 Queen E. Phillips, Majestic Worldwide Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

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Rejoice in suffering?

Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans: “…we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. —Romans 5:2-5

MPWM faithful reader, do you like pain?  Do you like suffering? I certainly don’t.  I reach for pain relief meds at the slightest sign of a headache.  How and why should we rejoice in our suffering? Suffering is uncomfortable and painful.

Do you think Paul was speaking only of himself, perhaps in third person? I think not. Based on my belief in the inspired authenticity of the Bible, I believe he’s talking to Christian believers today.   Reading Paul’s letters, it’s obvious that he had his share of suffering—painful experiences, troubles, trials and hardships. 

 

In 2 Corinthians 11:24-27, Paul listed all he endured: 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.

(Can you believe the audacity to complain about having to wait in rush-hour traffic?)  Also, in his letter to the church at Philippi, which was written during imprisonment,  Paul expressed his desire to know Christ better by partnering with Him in his suffering. Enduring much suffering for the cause of Christ taught Paul to be content in all circumstances. He encouraged the Philippians to cultivate this same ability. (Philippians 3:10-11; 4:11).

The idea of Christians suffering today is frowned upon.  The message of suffering is no longer on our list of sermon topics or Bible Study teaching series in the local church. On the rare occasions that the subject of suffering comes up it is directed toward foreign countries plagued by enormous hardships, persecution, and suffering.  Yet, in America the reality of suffering, hardships and adversity among Christians is evident by the long prayer lines, many prayer requests. Since suffering is on the rise, perhaps now is the time to teach people how to rejoice and not lose hope during tough times.

The disadvantages and distresses of life are more prevalent in our time than during Apostle Paul and the early Christians lifetime. Why? It’s a different world—larger population, different culture, along with changing socioeconomic factors.  Without a doubt, life can be hard and painful…brutal in fact! The main point of emphasis Paul makes is that of our attitude during suffering. While going through the adversities of life, we must always have hope—an expectation that troubles won’t last always. Having this hope gives us a reason to rejoice…envision better. Secondly, we are able to rejoice when we “know” there is purpose for our pain. Knowing that God is intentional in allowing us to experience the unpleasantness and vicissitudes of life should motivate us. Our motivation is based on our knowledge of God.  Know this: whatever God allows is to empower us to be better, do better, live better, and have a better relationship with Him; living in harmony with His plan for our lives. Ultimately, suffering is a process that produces Christ’s character in us.

How should I rejoice in suffering? By continuing to give God praise, being thankful and worshiping the Lord Jesus Christ in spite of hardships, trials and tribulation.  Why should I rejoice? My hope (expectation) is solidified by my knowledge of what the outcome will be. (God always causes us to triumph in Christ (2 Corinthians 2:14).   Although we have disappointments in life, hope and faith in God will not result in disappointment. He pours into us His love, which will sustain us through all life’s ups and down.