A seminary professor once walked by a group of students in the library, and on a whim decided to ask them, “What are you all studying?”
“The book of Philippians,” they responded. As the old professor scanned the messy table piled with commentaries, articles, and notes, he noticed one key element was missing. So he peered over his horn-rimmed glasses and asked, “Where’s Philippians!”
When it comes to discovering God’s will for your life, it can be easy to complicate things. So what I want to give you today is a back-to-the-basics approach to finding the will of God. And I can’t think of a better place to start than with the words of Jesus Himself in Matthew 7:7 where He says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”
Jesus gave this model for prayer first and foremost so that you and I might learn to pray. But take a look at that second component He emphasizes in this verse: seek. To seek in prayer is to surrender your will to the will of God and to submit your ways to the ways of God.
We can unpack what this means a bit by looking at the Lord’s Prayer, found in Matthew 6:9-13. In this most famous prayer of Jesus, He says: “Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven (NKJV).” What Jesus sought in His prayer was God’s will and God’s way: “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
It’s clear that God’s will isn’t always done on earth as it is in heaven, otherwise, you and I wouldn’t be encouraged to pray for the will of God to be done on earth as it is in heaven. We live in a world suffering the consequences of sin, and God’s will is not always perfectly done on earth… even though He is sovereign over all the events and circumstances of our lives.
But to understand God’s will for your life, you must seek God’s will first in your prayers. And what many Christians don’t understand is that prayer isn’t changing God’s mind, but finding God’s mind. In 1 John 5:14-15, we are told:
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
It’s been said that nothing lies outside the reach of prayer except that which lies outside of the will of God. So when you seek God’s will in prayer… when you seek His will here on earth as it is done in heaven… you’ll learn what God wants to do with your life.
Prayer is not changing God’s mind to be more like yours. In fact, it’s the exact opposite! So when you pray, open yourself first and foremost to a change in your own mind because that’s how you can truly discover God’s will for your life.