Exploring Prayer With
By Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
Chapter 18 — Ask According to His Will
I John 5:14,15, "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him."
Can we really come to God and ask Him for anything that we want? Or must we ask for His will to be done? There are passages of Scripture which seem to teach that we may have anything we want. Then there are passages which lead us to believe that we must ask according to the will of God. The two of these can be reconciled as follows:
1. Concerning the will of God, there are two wills. First, there is His revealed will; then, there is His secret will. Under His secret will would be His perfect will and His permissive or acceptable will. God has a plan for each of our lives. This plan is what we call the perfect will of God. However, often sin causes us to forfeit the perfect will of God. Then, bless His name, He tells us not to go away, that He has another will for our lives, and this would be the permissive will of God, or perhaps better still, the acceptable will of God. Romans 12:1,2, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Sometimes sin causes the Christian to forfeit the right to do the perfect will of God. Then God says to us, "Don't go away. I have another will for you." When we have forfeited our right to do His perfect will, praise His name, He does not discard us from usefulness. Perhaps one cannot no longer do His perfect will, but he can still be used by God. It matters not where the child of God is or how far away from God's perfect will he has strayed, God can still use him in some capacity.
I am thinking of a man who was called to preach, and, no doubt, the perfect will of God for his life was to pastor. Sin came into the picture and prevented him from continuing to pursue the perfect will of God. However, he got right with God and is now serving as a layman in a good fundamental church. He has a bus route and is a wonderful soul winner. God is using him in a wonderful way, though not as he could have used him had he not forfeited the right to stay in the perfect will of God.
This acceptable or permissive will of God could be called the improvised will of God. In football the coach draws the play on the board. Every player knows exactly what he is supposed to do. If the play works, it will be highly successful, and sometimes it does work just as it is drawn on the board. However, many times something may cause the play to go awry. The quarterback has the ball, he fades back to pass, but a lineman fails to block his man. The quarterback finds the play "busted." He then begins to improvise. They call this scrambling. It may be that the end who was supposed to receive the pass from the quarterback at a certain place at a certain time will find the ball not there when he arrives, so he begins to run an alternate pattern trying to get open. The quarterback is scrambling in the backfield. The entire play has fallen apart, but many games have been won and many touchdowns have been scored through improvised plays. Fran Tarkington, the scrambler, and Roger Staubach, who was called "Roger the dodger," became famous for being able to improvise plays.
It may be that in your life you have known from childhood the perfect will of God. How blessed and how wonderful when such is the case! However, some reader may be saying, "The play has been broken for me. I have forfeited my right to the perfect will of God." Ah, dear reader, there is still a God in Heaven Who wants to use you and He will if you will diligently seek His acceptable will, or His permissive will, or perhaps even better, His improvised will. You may not score as many points as you would have scored had you stayed in the perfect will, but you can still win the game and you can be used of God! Do not panic or fret because you have forfeited the perfect will. Scramble to the improvised will. God can still use you.
2. The revealed will is the Word of God. This is the will that God is talking about in I John 5:14,15, "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him." God is saying that if you would ask anything according to His revealed will, He would do it. KNOWING the revealed will of God becomes the important thing! How tragic for people not to know God's will because they do not know God's Word! The child of God who would know and do the will of God must bathe himself in the Word of God in order that he may know most of the things concerning God's will and in order that he may have more power in prayer.
3. God's revealed will tells us of His principles and His promises. In contrast with this, God's secret will is that which He reveals to us which is not written in the Word of God. For example, we know that it is the will of God that we win souls because it is in the Word, but the Word does not tell me in what city I am to live while I win souls. This is the secret will of God, which I must find from Him. One must remember, however, that the secret will of God will be exceedingly difficult to find unless one knows the revealed will of God. If the Christian is not interested enough to seek what God has written concerning His will, God will be very reluctant to give him added instruction concerning His will.
So, the revealed will of God tells us principles by which we may live and promises that God gives to us. God is telling us that His answers to our prayers will be dependent upon our praying within the will of God, within the principles of God or within the promises of God.
4. Within that will of God, He hears us, our text says. Better translated, He gives us a hearing. Because we have read the Bible and learned therefrom its principles and promises, God gives us a hearing. He will listen to out petition. The implication is that God will not give us a hearing unless our prayers are according to the principles and promises of God. For example, the Supreme Court is petitioned concerning a case. First, the court must decide whether it will hear the case. If the justices feel that the case has merit, they will then hear it. The first investigation is to decide if the case will be heard. The second is the trial itself. This is what God is telling us. Whether or not He hears the case depends on our asking according to His revealed will. If, after examination, it is found that our petition is according to His revealed will, that is, the Word of God, He agrees to hear us.
Here is a Christian who obeys the Great Commission to carry the Gospel to the unsaved. It may be that he has chosen to go to a mission field. When he decides he is going to share the Gospel, he obeys the will of God as revealed in the Word of God. Then he receives a hearing concerning the secret will of God. This would be finding from God exactly on what mission field he should serve. Suppose he needs a car on the mission field in order to carry out his work. God gives him a hearing because he is living according to His will, and God says, "I will listen to your petition concerning your need of a car."
Here is another illustration: The revealed will of God tells us that we are to care for the orphans. A Christian decides to obey this command and believes that God wants him to start an orphanage. Now he needs a building. God will hear him or give him a hearing. He may feel free to ask now because he has acted according to the revealed will of God.
Many years ago I decided to obey the revealed will of God, that is, the Word of God, and become a soul winner. God then revealed His secret will to me and let me know that I was to be a full-time soul winner, or pastor. He further revealed His will to me by leading me to pastor a church. However, the church was 100 miles from where we lived, and I had no car. Since I was obeying the revealed will of God and He had further shown me His secret will, then I had a right to ask for a hearing concerning a car. I did ask, and I did receive! God marvelously provided a car.
Notice James 4:3, "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts." Notice especially the words, "because ye ask amiss." Perhaps this asking amiss is asking without the right to have a hearing. There are many things that God wants us to have that we do not have because we "ask amiss." It behooves us to live in the Word of God in order that we may find His revealed will. Then we can live on our knees in order to find His secret will. So many Christians think that something is the will of God but do not know that it is. They are asking for a hearing because of what they are guessing is the secret will of God. Using this logic one can ask for almost anything, but since we are humans, we are often wrong concerning the secret will of God. So, thank God, the hearing in this passage is based not upon our human judgment of the will of God but upon what is plainly stated in the Word of God to be His will.
5. If the secret will of God is not revealed immediately, the Christian should do the revealed will of God. Suppose a person comes to an area where there has been a tornado. may are injured. Many houses have been destroyed. It would seem that God would not mind a person starting where he is trying to save the person nearest to him, or help where the nearest need is found. If God does not reveal to him which person to help, he should just start helping where he is. Suppose then that a Christian has a difficult time finding the secret will of God where he should win souls. In such a case, let him start at his house and try to win his own loved ones. Then let him go to his neighbors and to his friends, then to others farther away. I doubt if God would mind saving a soul that He did not point out to the Christian, and I am convinced that if one will begin doing the revealed will of God where he is, ha will have a far better chance of having the secret will of God revealed to him.
Often a young man will come to me who is graduating from Hyles-Anderson College. He knows God wants him to pastor, but he is having a difficult time finding where he is to do so. Of course, I lead him to pray diligently and seek the secret will of God as to where he should start a church. If many months pass, I then suggest to him that he ask the Lord to control his mind and that he claim Philippians 2:5, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." He is claiming the mind of Christ. Of course, there are many other bits of advice that I give to him concerning seeking the will of God, but it seems so foolish for one to waste a lifetime doing nothing because the secret will of God has not been revealed when he has a Book full of things that are the revealed will of God.
Let us live in the Book that we may know His revealed will in order that God may reveal to us His secret will and in order that we may have a hearing concerning the things that we need and want.
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