In Matthew 6:9-13 we have what is called “The Lord’s Prayer.” Considered a model prayer it’s used as a guide in teaching us how to pray. Most have it memorized. It starts with “Our father which art in heaven…” and ends with “…for thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.” Nestled in the middle of this adulation for God is a little phrase: “Thy will be done…” How many of us say this phrase in prayers? If we do, what does it mean to us?
Do we pray it because God is greater than us and we know he’s going to do what he wants to do anyway in our lives? Do we pray it because God is smarter than us and so we know he’s arranging all our lives to suit himself? Are we just pawns on the chess board of life with God moving us here and there for his amusement? So we just say, “Thy will be done” because God will do what he wants to do anyway. Are we thinking we have no choices in life so why not say to God, “Just do what you want because what I want doesn’t matter anyway.” Sort of like something we’d say if we didn’t want to argue with someone any longer.
If those are our motives in saying, “Thy will be done” then we are missing the point.
We do have something to say about our wants, wishes, and desires. God listens to us with his heart as well as his head. He has given us free will and does not force us to always do what he wants. If that were the case none of us would ever sin or hurt ourselves. He allows us to go our own way if that’s what we want. God does not use his supreme power to control us. God is not a God of control; he is a God of love.
As we grow in our relationship with God we learn more fully that he truly loves us. He wants only the best for us. When we realize God is compassionate, loving, and kind, we actually want to surrender our will to his. We trust him.
It’s not wrong to make our wishes known. Jesus did this in the Garden of Gethsemane when facing the crucifixion. He prayed “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39) However he deferred to God because of the love relationship he had with him.
In addition to praying for God’s will to be done is our lives we can ask him to reveal his will to us so we can actively participate in what he wants. You see, prayer should not focus on trying to talk God into giving us what we want. Prayer is a time to align our will with God’s.
If we say, “Thy will be done” as a condescending acceptance of God’s power, we will never know the God of love. However, those words spoken in humility, surrender, and desire for God’s involvement in our lives can give us joy and a peace that passes all understanding – even when we don’t get what we want. (Philippians 4:7)