Matthew 6:10b (CSB) Your will be done
Ephesians 1:11-14 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
19th Century American Evangelist Charles Finney studied a few doctrines in his lifetime--like any Christian who has seriously thought through the Bible. Now, depending on how well you pay attention in church, this might not be the first time hearing his name. In mentioning in his name, I usually gets two polarizing responses:
- "Greatest Christian since Paul" mostly from more big movements within 20th century Evangelicalism and definitely, within the non-denomination megachurches and places like Bethel
- "The worst heretic since Judas and is a poison to all of Evangelicalism" - Those statements usually come from more orthodox camps
I have heard both opinions and yes, my own opinions tend to land on one side. My opinions on the man is not important. For a more excellent summary on the ministry of Charles Finney, check out chapter 2 from Iain Murray's book on revival, "Pentecost Today?".
For the good and bad influence that Charles Finney has on today's Christians, this much is certain: there are many of our brothers and sisters who adamantly believe if you prayed hard enough, prayed long enough, believed hard enough, did the right things, and have enough faith, that you could change the mind of God and get God to do your will.
Now, let me be fair: defenders of this belief would not claim to thwart the will of God. But ultimately, that is what you end up trying to do. Why is that so damaging is not because it is a feeble attempt at changing the will of God but because it assumes you are in control, which ultimately ends in the sin of witchcraft. Beyond that and more importantly, that is the very definition of legalism--the same back breaking yoke that Jesus Christ came to remove. In other words, let me do the right things in order to get the blessings of God that I want.
That does not work.
We are not here to line up the will of the Almighty God with our lives. But rather, as we are being conformed in the image of his Son, day by day, we are starting to line up our own will within the will of God--so that He and I will become one.
We are halfway through this teaching on prayer. So, for today, instead of teaching you a bunch of doctrinal facts, I want you to try to pray with what you know about God so far.
I usually don't do this but today, I am going to make the exception and recite my written prayer here.
I am but a little kid. And I don't know much.
But I know you are holy. you are my Father You know my needs Please provide for me.
Your kingdom is here because of what your Son has done bring me into your presence because of what your Son has done
Lord, I have spent my entire life doing what I want to do and when I come to you now I still want to do what I want to do
But would you make me look like your Son just as you promised you would so that I can want what you want just as your Son did.
For me to do anything you want I have to be filled with your Spirit give me your Son's Spirit the same one that raised Him from the dead and convicts me of everything your Son has commanded.