WISDOM FOR LIVING DEVOTIONAL
AUGUST 19, 2020
TOPIC: UNDERSTANDING THE WILL OF GOD IN PRAYER
BY T. O. BANSO
“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5:14 New King James Version).
Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead in John 11:43-44. He had power to heal the sick and raise the dead. Nevertheless, He didn’t use His power to raise John the Baptist from the dead. His father always granted His request (John 11:42). But He didn’t make any request for John to come back to life.
In fact, when John was in prison prior to his death, Jesus didn’t use His power to release Him. Rather, He went about His ministry. This had prompted John to send two of his disciples to ask if He was the Messiah or they should expect another (Luke 7:20).
By John’s question, he actually contradicted himself. Prior to the time Jesus started his public ministry, He came towards John, who said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29 New King James Version).
In response to the question John sent his disciples to ask, Jesus said, “Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me” (Luke 7:22-23 New King James Version).
John the Baptist came in the spirit of Elijah (Matthew 11:14; 17:11-13; Mark 3:11-13; Luke 1:14-17). What Jezebel couldn’t achieve in the Old Testament against the prophet Elijah, whom she threatened to kill (1 Kings 19:2), Herodias, who was King Herod’s wife, achieved as regards John the Baptist. She had asked her daughter to ask for the head of John, who was in prison, on a platter. Herod, on his birthday had asked Herodias’ daughter to ask for anything because she danced and pleased him and those with him (Mark 6:21-23).
The king was sorry when he heard the girl’s request. Obviously, that was not what he expected when he promised to give the girl anything, even up to half of his kingdom. John was beheaded. Mark 6:29 says when his disciples heard of it, they came and took away his corpse and laid it in a tomb. They went to bury him. Matthew 14:12 says, “Then his disciples came and took away the body and buried it, and went and told Jesus” (New King James Version).
So, what did Jesus do when He heard about the beheading of John the Baptist? He told John’s disciples to lead Him to the grave where they buried Him so that He might bring Him back to life! No. Jesus didn’t do anything like that. And that’s what would surprise many since He went about performing miracles! He should have told them to lead Him to the grave of John, who was also His relation and baptized Him in the Jordan River. That’s the natural way of thinking.
Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are you ways My ways,’ says the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts’” (New King James Version).
Jesus didn’t go to pray for John to come back to life. Matthew 14:13a says, “When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself” (New King James Version). In other words, He went to a remote area to be alone.
The Bible does not tell us what He went to do in a deserted place. It is possible that He went to deal with His grief alone in view of the relationship He had with John the Baptist.
It has also been suggested that He went to a deserted or remote place to be alone to get out of the jurisdiction of Herod and avoid His arrest and death before His time. Herod had received the report about Jesus and said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him” (Matthew 14:2 New King James Version).
It is foolishness not to flee from danger when there is a way of escape. If He had withdrawn because of Herod, Jesus must have used that to teach His disciples a lesson. He could have stayed and nothing would happen to Him. Nevertheless, after He withdrew, the Bible says that when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities (verse 13b). He ministered to them. Thus, if He had withdrawn to a remote area to deal with his grief alone, He knew when to stop and resume His ministry. That’s a lesson for His followers today.
However, the question is: why didn’t Jesus go to pray and perform a miracle to bring John back to life since His Father always granted His request? Why didn’t Jesus request God to replace John’s head with a new one and make him come out of the grave? This is the way many people, including Christians, think about prayers. We imagine all manners of miracles and couch prayer points to tell God to turn our requests to realities!
Miracles are real! God answers prayers! God is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. With God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8 New King James Version).
However, have we always received answers to all our requests based on these scriptures? Certainly, no one has. Why? One of the reasons relevant to this message is praying outside the will of God. There is no guarantee that if we act on Matthew 7:7-8 and all the scriptures on faith but our requests are contrary to His will, we will get the desired answers.
Our requests could be specific; we could use the name of Jesus, we could forgive all those who have wronged us and comply with other requirements, but if it is not the will of God for us to have what we are praying for, our requests will not be granted.
God’s answers to our requests could be outright No, wait or receive. Even, when God gives an answer to our prayers, He sometimes does not give us exactly what we have asked. He knows what He is doing and what is best for us. Sometimes we didn’t receive answers to our prayers because our prayer points were wrong. We could sweat heavily praying them but, unfortunately, that wouldn’t make God answer us.
This is why the greatest prayer you could ever pray, particularly when you don’t know the will of God, is: Father, let your will be done. Jesus taught His disciples this in the LORD’s Prayer. “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10; Luke 11:2 New King James Version). He didn’t just teach it; He also prayed for Himself in the Garden of Gethsemane that the will of God be done (Matthew 26:39; 42). And God’s will was done.
Some ministers could have gone to pray for John to come back to life, either acting under the pressure of men or zeal. I believe Jesus didn’t go to pray to raise John back to life because He knew his time was up – his ministry was over. It didn’t matter how he died. John had already fulfilled his ministry (John 1:19-28; 3:27-30).
Praying for John the Baptist would have been praying outside the will of God. This is one of the reasons the prayer requests of many believers are not granted. “You make your request but you do not get it, because your request has been wrongly made, desiring the thing only so that you may make use of it for your pleasure” (James 4:3 Bible in Basic English). In other words, we ask with wrong motives.
The apostle John said, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5:14 New King James Version). Mark 11:24 says, “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (New King James Version). No matter how much we believe, if we our requests are wrongly made, there is no assurance of answers.
That’s why it is important to pray according to God’s will. His will is revealed in the Bible and the Holy Spirit reveals to us His specific will that is not stated in the Bible. For instance, names of most towns and cities today are not in the Bible.
God has His will concerning individuals on every matter. Our problem in praying for people or ourselves is that we don’t know the will of God on some matters or situations. Jesus didn’t go to pray for Lazarus when he was sick that he might be healed but He went to pray for him to come out of the grave! He did. It was a greater miracle!
However, it is the pastor’s desire for everybody to get his miracle so he prays for everybody. Nevertheless, it is not everybody who gets a miracle. That doesn’t mean God doesn’t answer prayer. It could mean the time for the miracles of some people hasn’t come or God has another plan for them.
Luke 4:25-27 says, “But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian” (New King James Version).
It is good to be sensitive to the will of God before we pray or as we pray so that we can pray according to His will and get answers to our prayers. For instance, we may be praying about an issue, something or somebody and we hear God say we shouldn’t pray at all, stop praying or change our prayer point. “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving!’” (Exodus 14:15 New Living Translation).
Praying the wrong prayer points will not produce the desired answers, no matter how many people are praying! We must pray according to the Word of God, which is His will. Also, we must rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us to pray aright. “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27 New King James Version).
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The LORD be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, let Your will be done in my life. Whatever is exalting itself above the will of God in my life be dethroned. Holy Spirit, make me sensitive to the will of God on every matter that is my prayer focus. Help me to pray for myself and others prayer points that agree with Your will. My prayer shall not be in vain in Jesus’ name.
(For over 300 in-depth and powerful messages by T.O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T.O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
T.O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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