The Psalmist says, “Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God” (143: 10). Striving to do God’s will provides a compass amidst the sea of life’s most roiling questions. Does my life still retain a sense of purpose? Does it possess integrity? To search out God’s will means to measure my life against the ultimate standard of meaning and goodness. Jewish tradition helps reveal God’s way. Still, it’s so easy to go through the motions — and false gods are everywhere. So, twice every day in the traditional liturgy we pray that we may “keep Your commandments, do Your will and serve You with a full heart.”*
Anthropomorphism: assigning human qualities to the Divine, e.g., God has a “will.”
We have, of course, no other way of speaking about the incomprehensible God, whose ways lie far beyond our ken. The magnificent poetry of the prophet Isaiah challenges us to remember that the word spoken by God always transcends our full understanding. In image and metaphor and mystery, we approach the living God.
Thus, I prefer not to speak of the “will” of God because it seems so often reduced to something that religious authorities know with certitude. Rather, I tend to speak of God’s desire, asking, “What is it that God desires for the flourishing of creation? How might I attune myself to live in accord with God’s desires?” Others, mindful that the phrase “God’s will” suggests a thing rather than a relationship, speak of God’s call as reflecting the “open, relational, and non-predetermined nature of God’s relationship with us.”*
Five times a day when Muslims pray, they ask God to “Guide me to the straight path” of Islam. The Qur’an frequently commands Muslims to “obey God and obey His Messenger” (3:132, 4:59). Every Muslim wishes to please God and have God be pleased by him/her (5:119, 9:100). There are a lot of temptations and distractions in this life so that a Muslim is afraid of arousing God’s displeasure. When I stand and worship, I pray for God’s acceptance of my prayer. When I eat, I check that I eat food that is Halal (permissible) and not Haram (forbidden) in Islam. To a Muslim, fulfilling God’s will means looking for decency and beauty in all aspects of life and rejecting all sorts of ills and abominations.