Perhaps one of the best books I’ve ever read is “Decision Making and the Will Of God: A Biblical Alternative to the Traditional View“. While there were some stylistic choices which didn’t appeal to me, I liked it so much because it echoed back to me a clearer and more articulate understanding of my own views regarding God’s will and how to find it. (I think that if people are honest, they’ll admit that this is often the reason why books become their favorites.) A decent synopsis of the book can be found here. If you read it, the rest of this post will make more sense.
While reading it, I made an effort to change the way I was praying. At the time, I prayed like so many others, asking for God to reveal what He specifically wants me to do with my life. I wanted the burden of the responsibility of choosing the course of my life taken off my shoulders. Afterall, if God revealed to me that it’s His will for me to do X, then any consequences could be laid at His door. However, praying this way never seemed quite right. Even though I asked for God’s supernatural leading in the details of my life, I never really believed that Scripture indicated that He worked that way. As I read Friesen’s critique of what he calls the “traditional” view of God’s will, I stopped asking God for signs and leadings (meaning highly subjective emotional predispositions) and started asking for opportunities, wisdom and courage to do His will that I already knew.
Yesterday, while driving to pick up my son from school, I was praying about the upcoming month of Ramadan. Honestly, it is my least favorite season in my host country. One of the main reasons is that people drive much more dangerously during those 28 or so days than at any other time of the year. (I don’t drive after sundown now if at all possible because the streets are unsafe.) People are more discourteous and make more rash decisions during these days of food, water, caffiene and nicotine deprivation than at any other time in the year. Several times last Ramadan, my wife and children were almost involved in some serious accidents going to and from school. So, I was asking God to make the roads safer this year than last year. It occured to me that I was asking for His Divine intervention, possibly asking Him to override the wills of the free people He created and I wasn’t sure if I believed that God works this way. Then I asked God to show me how to pray about this problem.
I’ve been praying the Lord’s Prayer with my sons each night before bed for a while and this phrase came to me; “Your kingdom come, your will be done.” Right, so Jesus says that I ought to pray for God’s will to be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. Next I thought, “What is God’s will for these drivers?” and it was clear. God’s will is that people drive considerately, thinking about how their actions affect others. The Bible states it this way, “Love your neighbor as yourself”, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, “Deny yourself and follow Me”, and “Think of others” etc. Consequently, I prayed that during this Ramadan people would drive carefully, aware of those around them and concerned for the safety of others. This is certainly God’s will, especially for me since I say that I love Him.
Of course, everyone on the road is free not to do God’s will, however, Jesus’ model is still valid. So, I’ll continue to pray that God’s will is done on the streets of Earth as it is in Heaven until it is.