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This post is another except from Joy of Prayer. The following are three things that we should do if we want to obey God:
1. Find out what His commands are, what pleases Him, and what His will is. To discover these things we have to first search the scriptures. The vast majority of the will of God has already been revealed there showing us clearly what to do and what not to do. Where there is no clear teaching on a subject, if we continue our study and meditation, we may discover scriptural principles that will aid us, even Old Testament stories that will provide for us excellent examples. And all along the way, in our search for His will, lest we become weary in the work, God assures us that He will help us in finding it. Philippians 2:13 says, “…it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”
George Sweeting, in his book, How to Discover the will of God, reminds us that God has given us the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). He says, “God is not a celestial dictator who wants to order every movement of our lives…He wants us to use our own sanctified, God-given common sense.” At times, he said, it is best to just go ahead and do the obvious thing instead of waiting and seeking Gods clear leading from scripture. George quotes from A.W. Tozar: “Except for those things that are specifically commanded or forbidden in scripture, it is God’s will that we be free to exercise our own intelligent choice…the man or woman who is wholly and joyously surrendered to Christ can’t make a wrong choice—any choice will be the right one.”
Also, in our search for God’s will, we should be always mindful that love to God and our neighbor is the ultimate command. As Jesus said in Matthew 22:40, “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
Therefore, when we are pondering what His will is for us, we should consider that it will always be to love Him and others. His will will always include others—to esteem others better than ourselves; and to look out for the interests of others more than our own (Phil. 2:3-4).
In fact, Jesus requires us to love others as He has loved us. In John 15:12-13 Jesus said, “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” God’s will is clear to us in this passage. In all we do in our life we must be involved with people—to the point of laying down our lives for them as Jesus did for us.
A second thing we should do is…
2. Pray in the Spirit. Spirit-filled prayer is a necessary preparation for obedience. What I am talking about here is the Quiet Time prayer: the type of prayer that inclines the ear to listen to the Spirit (Jer. 7:24, 26). It is the kind of prayer that depends on the Holy Spirit and that patiently waits on Him for guidance.
We may recognize Him as being gentle and loving yet strong and compelling. Hence, when you quiet your heart before God in prayer and as you study His Word, His Spirit will gently and quietly urge you in a certain direction. This urging is like an inward compelling, a gentle pulling, and a quiet whisper to do a certain thing or to go a certain way. You will find that if you have made it a habit to study the Bible He will use those studied passages to direct you toward His will.
This type of prayer we are talking about is an abiding prayer, that is, prayer that helps us to live in union and communion with God. By this prayer we endeavor to unite ourselves with Him just as a branch is united or connected to a vine. And just as the vine gives of its life substance and the branch receives it, when we pray in the Spirit we commune with Him in such a way that He gives His life and power to us and we naturally and gladly receive it.
When your heart is prepared with this kind of prayer (when the spirit has softened your heart and made it more pliable), you will feel more compelled toward God, more in love with Him; therefore, you are made more willing and ready to obey Him.
A third thing that is absolutely necessary for obedience is your surrender to Him.
3. Surrender your life to Him. If you want to live a life of obedience to God you must come to Him with a right attitude—with a surrendered heart that is willing to do whatever He wants you to do. Thus, when you surrender yourself to God you are presenting your body and your heart to Him to serve him.
And we serve Him not as slave-servants, but as friends. For a friend is one who has a heart to obey and who is willing to obey supremely, that is, to give of his whole life.
In John 15:12-17 Jesus spoke to His disciples and challenged them with this kind of supreme obedience. In verses 12-14 He said, “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.”
So He was asking them to love Him and others supremely—to lay down their life for Him and for others, as He would soon do for them. This is what He requires of us too. It is supreme friendship (with obedience), of which total surrender is required.
Paul wrote about this type of surrender in Romans 12:1. It is described as presenting, or offering our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice. Note that it is to be a living—not dead but living—sacrifice. The term “sacrifice” indicates that our living service for Him will at times be painful. That is because it is a life of self-denial, of taking up one’s cross. This is the supreme love of laying down your life. It is a life of suffering in the flesh for the glory of God and for the good of God’s kingdom (1 Pet. 4:1-2).
Wesley Duewel points out for us that the presenting of our bodies in Romans 12:1 is in the aorist tense in the Greek, which indicates that it is to be “a decisive, momentary act with a permanent result.” In other words, this kind of surrender is to be a decisive and willful commitment of ones whole life for a lifetime.
Yes, if our surrender is genuine it must be a commitment for life. We can’t expect to learn how to obey God and to live a life of obedience if our surrender to Him is only part time, when we feel like it, or when it is convenient for us. It must be a total surrender that commits the whole life to God.