A few years ago I was asked to give a talk with several other speakers. Those invited to speak were given lines from the Our Father. Together our talks would give meaning and insight into the prayer we all know so well. I was eager to get my lines and I prayed that the Holy Spirit would bless me with just the right ones. I was nervous and excited when I opened my email and read, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Sigh… to be honest, in my mind I felt these were the hardest lines of the entire prayer. Do we really understand what we are saying when we pray the words… “Thy will be done”? I suspected that most of us don’t. They are words of unconditional obedience. These lines are self-sacrificing and indicate a complete surrender on our part. And they go completely against what our society tells us is right and good. I struggled with how I would convey just how important these lines are and how we have to understand what we say when we pray “Thy will be done”.
If our ways were the same as God’s I know it would have been easier to speak about submitting to God’s will. But they aren’t.
Chapter 31: Man’s Ways and God’s Ways
I find it interesting that throughout this chapter we see continuous reminders that in Scripture it is clear that God’s ways are very different than man’s ways. We often think that the problems we face today in terms of morality and society’s disregard for God’s laws are something no one has ever faced before. We think that as time progresses sin and the push to engage in sin is more prevalent now than ever before. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Sin has been a part of our world since Adam and Eve chose to disobey God. Anyone who does an in-depth study of ancient history, including the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament), will find that sin has run rampant throughout all time. Even those whom God personally called were often engaging in very sinful activities. The reason this has always occurred is very simple- man’s ways and God’s ways are completely different.
Matthew Kelly points out that we are not naturally kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion. I think I am going to have to disagree with him here. If we look at the behavior of children we see all of these qualities. Think about how easily children forgive and love; how they are quick to help those they see in pain (regardless of what kind of pain it is!); and how kind they can be. Christ even told us that if we want to enter into heaven we had to become like little children (Matthew 18:3). No, I believe that kindness, compassion, and mercy are our natural dispositions. I believe that it is the world around us that distorts our personalities and makes us forget who we truly are. It is the sin we encounter and embrace that steers us from the love that is written in our hearts.
Point to Ponder: God has a better way of doing things.
I think that deep down we all know this. But we are prideful people and we want to do things our way. It’s hard to get to the point in our lives where we not only recognize but also embrace that God knows what he’s doing. It takes a lot to surrender to God’s will and to unite our will to his. If we step back and think of times when we actually did this, I have no doubt that we each can confidently say that allowing God to guide us through whatever we were going through always ended much better than when we stubbornly fought against him.
Learning how to pray “Thy will be done…” and actually meaning it is a difficult undertaking. And while our lives may not be easier when we allow God to guide us (he never promised it would be easy!), they will be fuller, richer, and more meaningful. We will see that when we unite our wills to God’s we start to be better versions of ourselves. We start acting kinder, more compassionate, and more merciful and forgiving.
Verse to Live: “The human mind may devise many plans, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will be established.” Proverbs 19:21
I would like to challenge you to pray the Our Father with conviction. Pause on the words as you say them. Think about each line and what it means. When you pray, “Thy will be done…” do you mean it? Embrace it in your heart and be steadfast in your desire to unite your will to God’s. We can (and do!) make plans all the time but how often do we first pray that the plans we make will be what God wants us to do? When we live to fulfill the Lord’s purpose our lives become more meaningful. To desire to do God’s will and to actually strive to do so changes us in ways we can’t even imagine.
Question to Consider: What is one practical example of how God is inviting you to let go of your way and open yourself to his way?
When I originally gave my talk on my lines within the Our Father I highlighted being open to life and how difficult that can be at times but how putting aside society’s view on life and embracing God’s was so rewarding for our family. It was (is!) hard but I can’t imagine living any other way. To piggyback on that thought, I think that there are other areas in my life, areas I feel I need to control- finances, relationships, volunteer involvements, that God is asking me to just hand over to him and to unite my will to his. But gosh, it’s hard! Still I pray, “Thy will be done, Lord!”
Your Turn: Is it difficult to abandon your ways and instead embrace God’s? Have you ever prayed the Our Father and thought about the words of submission you are uttering when you pray, “Thy will be done”? What is the hardest part of letting go and letting God?
Prayer: Lord, teach me to value your way of doing things above all other ways.
Help my heart to pray with fervor and acceptance “Thy will be done!” I know your ways are always better than any plan I could ever imagine. Please help me to submit my heart and all I do to your holy will. Amen.