Was I being like the disciples who were arguing over who was the greatest? As Jesus reminded them that the first would be last. Do I understand what my purpose is? Am I seeking the right things? Am I praying for God’s will to be done? … Or mine?
Those are the questions that I have been thinking about a lot the past couple of weeks, as we have read story after story of how the disciples struggled with understanding the life Jesus calls His followers to live.
And I have been considering this more after a question was asked to me that completely challenged everything that I have been thinking about. I won’t tell you the question, but it is a question that has grieved and disheartened me since the second it was asked.
And so I have been searching my heart. What am I seeking?
When we wrestle with these questions, I think that something we need to take seriously is how Jesus responds to our desire to be great, and our wills to be done.
This was something else that was said to me. “You can’t see that God will bless and honor your obedience.”
And I want to be honest about my thoughts on this. Will God bless our obedience? Yes. In the way we expect? Probably not. And should we be obedient because we want God’s blessing? No.
Blessing and honor should not be what we are seeking. We should just seek and serve Christ because we love Christ. No expectations of strings attached. His will, way above, our own.
How Can I Know If I Am Praying For God’s Will?
We wrestle with the hard questions. And I say wrestle, because the hard questions are really hard questions. The uncomfortable questions. And we should wrestle with them, because they are important. So here are a few questions to consider:
What are my intentions when I pray?
When praying, am I only asking for the things that I want? Or do my prayers ultimately submit to God’s will?
Do my prayers align with God’s truth and His promises?
Do my prayers benefit me? Or do they glorify God?
Are my intentions really for God’s will, or are my desires for God’s will in my life only when His will aligns with my own?
Let’s look at Lazarus’s sister Mary, in Luke 11 for a second. Because this is a beautiful picture of this. Mary and Martha sent a message to Jesus that their brother Lazarus, the one Jesus loves, was sick. He wasn’t just sick, he was like really sick. Jesus responded saying that his sickness would not end in death, and this was for God’s glory and He would be glorified through it.
Jesus stayed where he was for 2 more days before he went to where Lazarus was. By the time Jesus got there, Lazarus had been dead for 4 days. This is not what Mary had hoped and prayed for. This was not her will. And she fell at the feet of Jesus and in her grief let Him know her disappointment, like He wasn’t in control of the situation, and like the victory He spoke was just a broken promise. Because if Jesus had been there, her will would have been done.
And here we have the shortest verse in the Bible that shows the heart of God. Jesus wept. And he wept because her (and the other’s) grief troubled Him. Some of them were surprised by this display of His love, while others said “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
Couldn’t He have kept Lazarus from dying? Couldn’t He have healed the sickness as they had hoped for?
He could have, yes. But only if their will had been done.
We know the end of the story. Jesus continues to go back to His promise. “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” He asked for the stone to be removed, He thanks God, and He calls Lazarus out of the tomb. God was glorified through His Son. As promised.
Only when His will is done.
Nevertheless, Your will be done.
I skipped over a little detail in verse 5 and 6. It is actually not a small detail at all. And I think it speaks volumes for God’s will.
It says that Jesus loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, and so (translated as therefore, accordingly, or these being so) he stayed where he was for 2 days. He didn’t run to where Lazarus lay dying the second they called so that He could heal Him. He stayed because He loved them. It wasn’t to torture them, and it wasn’t because He wasn’t going to answer their prayers.
Jesus was about to show them that He could conquer death (even days later), just as He promised. However, all they could focus on was that He could have healed their brother and He didn’t. He promised that his sickness would not end in death. But it had. At least that’s what it looked like. He could have, and He didn’t.
And He didn’t do it according to their will because of His love.
Their faith would increase, as well as the faith of those around them. They would have a dinner in His honor, and the woman who had fell at Jesus’ feet in grief was now at His feet again, This time in an act of gratitude and love, she was pouring expensive perfume over His feet, and wiping it with her hair.
May this be our prayer…
God, I admit that at times I can be exactly like the disciples, and your followers, wanting my own will to be done over Yours. I thank you that your ways are higher than mine. I know I can take you at your word, and believe that you work for the good of those who love you. Thank you that your timing is perfect, and that your plans for me are good, even when I may feel like they are not. May Your will, be the will only that I pray for. May your purpose for me be the only purpose I long for. And may I believe and hold fast to what you have spoken, above what I can understand. May You always find me, at your feet, bringing you the very best that I have, out of love and adoration for all You are. In Your Son’s precious name, amen.