By Will Dole
Most of us have read or recited numerous times the words taken from the Lord’s Prayer, “Your will be done,” but how often have we truly pondered what that means? What is the significance of requesting that God’s will be done?
When we pray, we are approaching God as a child does a loving father. It’s sometimes difficult to associate the fact—especially since we can’t see Him—that God isn’t some faceless, nameless force in the sky. Neither is He the flawed, violent, condescending, harsh, neglectful, cruel, uncaring, mean, or otherwise sinful father we may have in this world. No, He is the perfect Father to us all, especially to the fatherless. Regardless of the type of relationship we have had with our dad here on earth—if we had one at all—we can trust that God will consistently treat us in a loving and caring way.
Nevertheless, when we make requests to Him, we should keep in mind that He is sovereign. This means He is all-powerful over all that He has made, and that He has a perfect plan which will be carried out. That may not sound comforting, because it means we are not in control. Yet, because He knows us and has entered into a relationship with us, His control is the best thing for us.
We also should keep in mind that God deeply loves us, and from this love He carries out His plan for our lives. This being true, after a while we may start to wonder if we need to pray. We might think that if God is all powerful and is going to execute His plan anyway, there is no point in praying. Why should we take our cares to God who already knows them? That’s a good question.
Part of the answer lies in the question itself. We should take our cares to God because He already knows them. When we put these two truths together and understand them—the fact that He is both all-knowing and all-powerful—we can truly pray “Your will be done.” Since God will see His perfect will done in the end, we should ask for it, too. It helps us align our heart with His.
This is how Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). It’s amazing to think that Jesus Christ, God incarnate, the second member of the Trinity, humbled Himself to join us in our human plight. This prayer is lifted up just before Jesus is betrayed by Judas and turned over to be crucified, so He’s pretty desperate. But that’s just part of it. No doubt His greater anguish stems from knowing that something is about to happen for the first and only time in all of history, written and unwritten: the separation of Jesus Christ from God the Father. The excruciating physical pain of the crucifixion is surely secondary to the emotional and spiritual affliction Jesus is about to undergo.
So in His moment of extreme distress, what does Jesus do? He prays. Jesus goes to the One who holds the entire world in the palm of His hand, and humbly makes His requests. He acknowledges His pain, His anxiety, and His sorrow. He admits that He would much rather not bear this pain, and if He could take another route, He would. But most importantly He submits to the will of the Father. And after He had done so, God sent an angel to give Him strength. Did God change the path for Jesus? No, but He did provide the means to endure it. God cares more about the loving relationship He offers us, than about our comfort, success or even our earthly life.
When we recognize that we have a loving Father who not only created us, but intensely loves us, we can trust that He will always act in our best interest. Sometimes this trust comes by faith alone, because it’s difficult to understand or experience at the time. But, when we ponder God’s true character, we can sincerely pray “Your will be done.” Coming to this place of humility will radically transform our prayer life. It takes God out of the box where our minds so often confine Him, and restores Him to His rightful place on the throne of our lives.