I especially beg you to pray so that God will send me back to you soon. ~ Hebrews 13:19
Today, we continue our study of Hebrews 13 wherein the writer of Hebrews is showing us what God's culture looks like in our everyday lives. In our last blog, the writer of Hebrews introduced us to the topic of prayer which is the most important thing we can do in our relationship with God.
Prayer is a conversation with God and is essential to the development of our relationship with Him. Prayer is mostly about the deepening of our relationship with God. On the other hand, much of prayer is that we ask of God certain things for ourselves and others. Prayer connects us not only to God but also to His resources.
As we pointed out in our last blog and podcast, prayer is a battle. I say this because we all struggle at understanding and knowing the will of God in a given moment. Having said this, prayer must always begin with God! True prayer is not bringing our plans to God, and, asking Him to bless our plans. God is always the One who proposes. Prayer enters in when God enlists our partnership in carrying out His will in this world.
The best prayers are those which are founded upon God's words and His promises. This is why it is so imperative for us to be in His Word, so that we know we are living in concert with His culture. Biblical prayer begins with a proposal which God makes, or a conviction He gives, or a warning He has given.
We have been given through Christ's finished work on the cross favored position before God. We have been called into the family of God and made sons of the living God by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Furthermore, we are being taught by grace how to walk with God, and, as we learn to do this, we will become the people to whom God tells His secrets.
We often find ourselves believing that because we have received the Lord Jesus Christ, all God has is now open to us. And, to an extent that is true. But, in order to access certain secrets of God, we must daily appropriate the revelation that He has afore given us. When we do this, we can expect God to share His secrets with us. This is when we will get a lot more out of the Bible when we study it. God loves to tell secrets to His people who seek His face. This leads us to knowing God's will and how to pray for it.
In Romans 12:1-2 we read, "1 So brothers and sisters, since God has shown us great mercy, I beg you to offer your lives as a living sacrifice to him. Your offering must be only for God and pleasing to him, which is the spiritual way for you to worship. 2 Do not be shaped by this world; instead be changed within by a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you; you will know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect."
Knowing and doing the will of God involves presenting ourselves to Him and renewing our minds to the point that we are thinking and being defined by His thoughts. This, we must remember, is a process which does not happen over night. It is a process and it is synonymous with our sanctification.
In Romans 12:1, we are urged to offer our lives to God, not just our bodies, as some translations suggest. When we offer our bodies to God, we have come to the place where we have decided that all of us belongs to Him. And, our sacrifices are not only living, they are "perfect" and "acceptable" to God. The word "perfect" brings with it the idea that we are now being defined by God and we are no longer being defined by the lesser motivations, namely the thoughts of this world which play on our insecurities. You see, it is the presence of God in our lives that makes us more complete and less insecure.
Now, the command to "be changed" is written in the passive voice, indicating this change is God’s work, through the Holy Spirit. Only He can change us into people who are increasingly defined by Him. We cannot change ourselves, but we can submit our minds to His Word and His will, and when we do this, God will change us from the inside out. The role that we play is to diligently be in the Word of God, as often as we can. More important than this is that the Word of God is getting into us and defining us. And, when we experience the change in our souls through the instruction of His Word, the Holy Spirit will sensitize us to His leading into the will of God.
The word "thinking" can also be translated worldview: God's way of thinking and believing and living. The mind at the mercy of the influence of this world's way of thinking will be defined by the wrong things, things that slowly destroy us. But, the mind at the mercy of God's Word will be led to God's will and to wholeness.
At the end of v.2, we see that the will of God is "pleasing" and "perfect." The word translated "perfect" gets us to the fulfillment of God's purpose in our lives. We fulfill God’s purpose for us when we respond to His will. This is deeply satisfying to the mind that is yielded to Him and it is at this point that our lives will resonate in such a way with God that He will be glorified through us. God’s goal in Romans 12:1-2 is for us to do His will. When motivated by His mercy, we present ourselves to Him, totally, and our mind's are enabled to think as He, and, we are positioned to do His will.