In 2013, I took a class on spiritual practices. One thing I was encouraged to do was to ask God to give me one word to describe what he wanted to do in me in the New Year—this year—2014. God gave me my word as I was on the plane flying down to Dallas in January for an interview with Christar. My word for 2014 is “RECEIVE”.
In the weeks following this, the word RECEIVE popped up everywhere I turned. After returning from Texas, my husband and I spent a few days trying to discern if we should join Christar. In one of the books I was working through, I found this prayer…
Each month I am going to focus on one phrase of this prayer. So I begin with Lord, I am willing to…I started my study of this phrase by looking up the word willing. Willing is an adjective. It means ready, eager, or prepared to do something, quick to act or respond, inclined to, not refusing to do something. It has the idea of given or done readily, volunteered, given by choice or volition, without reluctance, ungrudgingly or being persuaded.
Next, I turned to scripture and did a word search on willing. I found that willing is always followed by something. In most cases, it is followed by “to” and a verb, such as willing to give.
In Exodus 35, Moses is following God’s instructions and building the Tabernacle. He is collecting materials and workers to get the job done. Verses 21-22 say everyone who was willing and whose heart moved them came and brought an offering to the Lord for the work on the tent of meeting, for all its service, and for the sacred garments. All who were willing, men and women alike, came and brought gold jewelry of all kinds: brooches, earrings, rings and ornaments.
The Israelites were willing to give an offering of material wealth. God did not coerce or persuade the people to build his tabernacle. He wanted only those who were willing, ready, eager and were moved to act of their own choice and volition.
Then in 1 Chronicles 29, the Israelites are building again. This time it is the permanent house of worship—the Temple. Again we see the people willing to give, without coercion. Verses 17 reads All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you.
In Isaiah 1:19, we are asked to be willing to obey. In Daniel 3:28, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are willing to give up their lives. And Joseph, in Matthew 1:19, is not willing to make a public example of his pregnant fiancé.
Paul’s letters also command us to be willing to associate with people of low position (Romans 12:16), to share, (1 Timothy 6:18), to serve, (1 Peter 5:2), and to preach (Romans 1:15).And then, sometimes willing is also followed by a noun—a willing mind (1 Chronicles 28:9), a willing spirit (Psalm 51:12) and willing praise (Psalm 119:108).
And lastly, I found that God also is willing. He is willing to heal a man with leprosy (Matthew 8:2-3). He is willing to save (Matthew 18:14). And he is not willing for anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9).
I completed my study with a google search to see what articles I could find on being willing and all I found were sermons and devotionals about the action, the thing we must be willing to do. I think this is Biblical. Jesus told his disciples to watch and pray because the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41). This verse seems to imply that willingness must be followed up by action. 2 Corinthians 8:11 echoes this thought. Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it. These scriptures tell us that we cannot look at being willing in isolation. We will get to the follow through in coming months, but for now, let’s focus simply on the willingness—the volition, the choice, the readiness, the eagerness—the attitude behind our actions.
How is your attitude? Are you willing? What have you felt coerced or persuaded to do that was not done with a willing heart? Maybe you are obeying, not eagerly and quickly but rather reluctantly and grudgingly.
I was convicted as I studied this that I have not been willing to be unsettled with no home. I have been accepting it, but I have accepted it reluctantly. I don’t think this means I have to willingly live this way forever. I can pray for a permanent residence. But since this is all I have right now, I am trying to work on my attitude of being willing to accept, eagerly and readily.
As I struggled with this, I prayed two prayers. First, I simply asked God for a willing spirit as King David did in Psalm 51. Secondly, I prayed the Prayer of Indifference. This doesn’t mean I am apathetic or careless, like a teen who answers, “Whatever!” Rather, the intent of this prayer is that I am indifferent to everything but God’s will. This is the prayer that says, “Not my will be done, but yours”. This means that at the core of my being, I am indifferent to what house I live in, where it is, when I get it, what it looks like, whether it promotes my comfort or makes me look good. I want only the home that is God’s will for me.
I want to be like Gladys Aylward, a missionary to China,
I wasn’t God’s first choice for what I’ve done for China. …I don’t know who was. …It must have been a man…a well-educated man. I don’t know what happened. Perhaps he died. Perhaps he wasn’t willing. …And God looked down…and saw Gladys Aylward…and God said—“Well, she’s willing!”
Take a few minutes of quiet prayer alone with God. Ask him for a willing spirit. Then pray the Prayer of Indifference. “Lord, make me indifferent to anything but your will.” Then close by saying aloud Jesus’ words, “Not my will, but yours, be done.”