7 “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
9 “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? 10 Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! 11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.
–Matthew 7:7-11 (NLT)
Ask, seek and knock for answers. Sounds simple enough. But how do we explain answers that do not come, finding that never seems to happen and doors that do not open? “God answers all prayers:” we say, “Yes, No and Maybe.” Perhaps it would be a good idea to check into whether or not we are asking for the right things. Jesus’ prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 might be helpful for learning about asking for the right things. God’s holiness, His kingdom and His will are Jesus’ points of emphasis in His model prayer.
Discerning the ins and outs of God’s will can be a daunting task. So many dimensions to describing God’s will make the study overwhelming and rather confusing. To simplify, we will simply consider two aspects of His will that are really all we need to know: 1) God’s Ultimate Will and 2) God’s Conditional Will.
GOD’S ULTIMATE ANSWERS
In Ephesians 1:4-12 (NIV) Paul describes God’s will before the beginning of time:
4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he[d] made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.
God’s ultimate will has a beginning and an end punctuated by a cross that made it possible for us to be included in His plan. It will not be thwarted, and it is impossible to cause Him to deviate from His plan. It is in place, permanent, exclusive to Him only.
GOD’S CONDITIONAL ANSWERS
In Romans 12:2 Paul tells us that “…let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
As we receive the Good News and begin the process of obedience to all that Christ has commanded, God begins the life-long process of transforming us into the image of His son. As such we become God’s billboard to the world about the amazing work He can do with people like us.
Of course, this aspect of God’s will can be rejected or taken lightly and the consequences will be severe and eternal. But to those who accept the gift of God the transformation begins. They begin working to become holy as God is holy, they strive to make God’s kingdom real in their own hearts and minds and they seek God’s will in the world around them. Once this process begins and we pray for the things that further His will, Paul tells us, God’s answer will always be ‘Yes!’
18 But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes” and “No.” 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silas[c] and Timothy—was not “Yes” and “No,” but in him it has always been “Yes.” 20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
ASK, SEEK & KNOCK
When we learn to ask for the right things, God’s answer is always going to be ‘Yes’ in Christ. All other appeals to God may be ‘Yes,’ ‘No,’ or ‘Maybe;’ but, when we seek His will His answer will be ‘Yes.’ We become part of the stream of God’s ultimate will that presses on through to eternity and cannot be thwarted.
Hallelujah! Father be Holy! Father, make me Holy!