While preaching James 4:13-17 this past Sunday I pointed out something that R. Kent Hughes also pointed out. Having a proper understanding of God’s sovereignty and providence isn’t just a doctrinal category, it is a worldview. Dr. Hughes writes:
The Puritans love it and filled their speech and correspondence with the Latin equivalent Deo Volente, “God willing.” And the Methodist followed with the same practice. In fact, godly Methodists regularly signed their letters with the initials D.V., and placards and circulars about coming events also had D.V. I think it was a beautiful custom, but of course I realize the danger of inherent in its becoming a cliche. (We all know we don’t need more Christian cliches!) Words are so much more easily counterfeited than the reality the represent. Nevertheless, I wonder if the reason we don’t use D.V. today is not so much the fear of cliches, but rather the influence of our modern world which rejects a transcendent God. It is not without significance that the Puritan epoch, as well as the Wesleyan revivals, were golden ages of evangelical Christianity. “God willing” is a posture of a burning heart.
However that may be, one thing is for sure–Deo Volente is to be the constant refrain of our hearts as we conduct the affairs of our lives. “If God wills” must be written over students’ plans–the choice of a life partner, future education, all everyday activities. Older people need to say from the heard, “If God wills, I will spend my time…If God wills, my children will become…If God wills, I will take up this ministry…If God wills, I will wake up tomorrow.” All of us should have this attitude.
D.V. before and after everything in life presupposes a life of dependent prayer in which all is taken before God. It means, further, a profound submission, for “God willing” truly said from the heart cannot produce anything else.
– from Preach the Word: James. p. 206