Direction Prayers

[To listen to the audio record of this message, CLICK HERE or use the Spotify player at the bottom of the post.]

Last week we looked at Prayers for Protection. Safeguarding against health problems, daily complications, major disasters – natural and manmade. We can pray for protection from all kinds of things, but it’s just icing on the cake. One thing I forgot to share with you was the words Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night he was betrayed. 

“ “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me.” 

Mark 14:36a

Even Jesus, who knew the cup that was being passed to him. A cup of suffering, pain, anguish, and death. He asked to be delivered…protected from this cup. Today we look at the very last part of that verse. “ “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” “


Does that wording sound familiar? Sounds similar to the Lord’s Prayer. You’ll find it in the hymnal, #633 the last paragraph.     You can also find it in your bible in Matthew 6:9-13, but today let’s read together from the #633.

“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,

10 your kingdom come, your will be done,

    on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us today our daily bread.

12 And forgive us our debts,

    as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation,

    but deliver us from the evil one.’

[For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]

  • side note: This last part is not in the oldest manuscripts, that’s why you might not find it in your bible or recite it regularly.

That line, “your will be done.” We are praying to God and agreeing that we desire His will to be done, even at the expense of our own will. 

This is the prayer for Direction. This is the end Goal of praying for God’s direction. We start with the end in mind: “Thy will be done.” If that’s what it looks like, then how do we get there?

That’s what we hopefully discover together in the next few moments.

My Will Be Done.”

Do you know someone who just always has to have it their way? They always say “I want to do this…let’s do this! Or I want to eat at Culvers, let’s go!” There are a million other examples but there is a strong chance you know someone like this. They really like having their idea be the one that happens. When they don’t get their idea picked, they take their ball and go home. They are out of the conversation. They’d rather be on their own than do someone else’s idea.

Jonah was that kind of person. You see, he was all good with God’s direction so long as they fell in line with his desires and comfort level. We see evidence of this at the end of his story. When things don’t go his way, when his shade plant is destroyed, when the people he preached condemnation over repented and God saved them…he throws a tantrum. He takes his ball and goes home. But it all starts with Jonah hearing from God and doing the exact opposite.

“The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”

3 But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.”

Jonah 1:1-3 NIV

Remember what I said last week about protection, direction and revelation? This is what God’s saying to me and hopefully to us: 

When we are following the Lord’s Directions, kicked off by his Revelation, Protection is just the icing on the cake.

Jonah was BLESSED! (How blessed was he?) He was SO BLESSED that he had divine revelation, giving him CLEAR directions on what God wanted of Jonah. It was clear what God wanted Jonah to do. How do we know? Because it says he does the exact opposite of what God tells him to do!

So Jonah is blessed with the clear direction of God, spoken plainly to him, and he says “Not your will, God, but mine be done.” 

There are plenty of examples of this attitude throughout scripture. Unfortunately there are plenty of examples of this attitude around us in our daily life. People who use tragedies to advance their personal or political agendas.

Stop and ask yourself these two questions:

  1. Who around you has this kind of attitude?
  2. In what ways do you have this kind of attitude?

Leave a comment in the comments section below about either or both of these two questions.

As you contemplate that, let’s think about the other side of this discussion

Thy Will Be Done

Photo by Anna Tarazevich on Pexels.com

Some people hear from God and say “nope.” Others say, “Whatever you want, Lord.” Daniel and his three companions. Willing to die for what they believed in: bowing to anything or one other than God is wrong. They were totally devoted and willing to be burned alive or torn to pieces, showing their integrity.

This comes back to Jesus in the garden. Jesus knew for a while that he would have to suffer and die.  In Luke 9:22 Jesus speaks about is candidly

22 And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”

Luke 9:22 NIV

He says this right after Peter had just declared that Jesus was “God’s Messiah.” Eight days after this prediction, Jesus is praying on a mountain and his transfiguration takes place.

In the middle of two victorious things rested the reality: life isn’t going to be sunshine and roses. There is pain, there is burden, misery, anguish. Yet, Jesus kept right on trucking along God’s path. He even predicted his death again. About nine days after the first prediction, Jesus says it again in a different way.

44 “Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you: The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men.”

Luke 9:44 NIV

You’ve got to flip or scroll pretty far before you can read his third death prediction. Luke 18: 31-33

31 Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. 32 He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; 33 they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.”

Luke 18:31-33 NIV

Jesus knew. Every time he headed to be alone in prayer, he knew the direction he was heading in this life. He explained it best to the simple folk who loved and followed him, but they didn’t fully realize what he was saying until after his crucifixion, death, and resurrection occurred. 

Jonah and Jesus. Jesus, at a certain point,  himself compares himself to the Old Testament prophet. So our comparison today is not unusual. When dealing with clear direction from God, they both were fighting.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Fighting

Jonah was fighting against God’s direction for his life. He fought against a very clear, laid out plan to bring a message to a lost people. A people that, later Jonah revealed, he did not believe God should be merciful to! Imagine that! You think you know better than God? 

Put yourself in Jonah’s sandals for a second. Picture the worst person on the face of the earth. Worst in history or in recent events. A whole lot of evil has been perpetrated recently, so I can’t imagine it is that difficult to think of this.

Now picture you telling God “They don’t deserve your mercy. That person deserves your forgiveness. They should not, ought not get any of that!” 

That’s what Jonah was fighting. Against the will, the direction, the clear plan God had laid out. “Go to the great city of Nineveh…” God told him. Jonah heads the other way.

Jesus fought. He fought against his own desires, his own self preservation. Everytime he stepped away to pray, he was fighting on his knees. He was fully giving himself over to God’s direction for his life. Not only did he fight, but he taught his disciples to pray this way as well. Matthew 6:9 starts out with Jesus saying, “This, then, is how you should pray:” and then he goes on to share his pattern for prayer. One of harmonizing human will and desire with humility and godly desire.

Conclusion

I want to conclude today’s message by way of a little demonstration. I will need a total of 3 volunteers, but let’s just start with our first one.

Now, I realize this is not going to be great for audio recording or for the blog page, as it is a visual demonstration, but I’ll do my best to narrate for those playing along at home. [blog reader: feel free to reuse this demonstration. I left directional cues below.]

  1. I need our first volunteer. Ok volunteer, go ahead and complete the task. You have 10 seconds. (After 10 seconds have passed and I give no directions, dismiss the helper.) Thanks for trying? I guess?
  2. Let’s have another volunteer. OK I did plant the next two volunteers, but I promise you I did not let them know in advance what was happening.
    • This volunteer is given a blind fold, spun a couple of times, pointed in a general direction of the “goal” (other side of the stage) and told “Your goal is to get to the end of this “maze” (put some obstacles in her way) “The goal is on the other side of the stage, you just need to get there.
      1. (She may accomplish this, but not likely in the timeframe.)
    • Thanks for trying.
  3. Next contestant? Ok, third time’s a charm, or something like that? Here’s what’s going to happen. I’m going to blind fold you. [change up maze] I’m going to spin you around a bit and point you in the direction of the goal. When I say go, I want you to head in the direction of the goal, but be careful. There are things that might trip you up. Listen to my voice. I will guide you through those obstacles if you will let me. You just have to follow my directions.
    1. Guide her through the maze until she completes it. It may take longer than 10 seconds.
    1. Thanks to all the contestants!

Life is like these 3 examples. Our first one is the person who knows there’s some goal or purpose in life…not sure what it is or how to get there. If they stay that way, they will end up running out of time. Our second volunteer showed us what it is like when we know that there is a direction and a general direction to go, but how if we don’t have continual guidance, we can get tripped up. In the end, running out of time or giving up all together. Our third example is someone who knows there is a goal, maybe has an idea of what it looks like. Instead of stumbling around in life and hoping and trying to get to that “goal” this person hears The Lord’s directions, guidance and follows it. Avoiding snares and traps. 

Where are you today? Are you unaware of the goal or how to get there? Are you trying to make it on your own, stumbling around in the darkness? Or are you listening, step-by-step to the voice of Jesus, knowing he will guide you where he wants you to be?

Prayers concerning direction require us to listen to and follow the one giving the direction. Is your life, “My will be done” Or “Thy Will be done?”

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