Growing up in church, I remember regularly reciting the Lord’s Prayer with the congregation as a common bookend of the service. The wiggly children down the pew would yank on their parent’s sleeve around this point in the service, while the older ladies with the coiffed hair would close their misty eyes to recite these last few prayers to the Lord. While I didn’t understand the significance of the Lord’s Prayer until much later, I remember how these steadfast believers would proclaim each word with the confidence that the Lord would answer their prayers in full.
For the most part, the Lord’s Prayer is pretty straightforward: adoration of the Lord, desire for heaven, request for basic needs and forgiveness, deliverance from temptation and evil, etc. However, a brief line in the second verse may cause some of us to pause: “your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10, ESV).
If we are honest with ourselves, we are comfortable with our will and we know that our comfort will be maximized our way. Asking the Lord for His will to be done can feel… dangerous.
One of the beautiful aspects of the Lord’s Prayer is that Jesus not only teaches us how to verbalize our prayers, but He also teaches us how to align our thoughts and actions with the Lord’s. When the disciples ask Jesus how to pray in Matthew 6, Jesus foreshadows one of the last prayers He would make on Earth in the Garden of Gethsemane.
The night before His arrest, Jesus cries out, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39). If the Son of God asks the Lord for a way out of His pain, so can we. We can cry out to the God of the Universe in full confidence that He hears, sees, knows, and feels what we are experiencing. In the same breath, Jesus also confesses His willingness to abide by the Lord’s plan, even through His suffering.
So, what do we do with this tiny line in the Lord's Prayer? Do we sidestep this whole issue by abstaining from saying it at all? Paul would tell us, “By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death” (Romans 6:2-3)?
Or, should we ask for the Lord’s will with a wince? The author of James (likely the younger brother of Jesus) would caution us against double-mindedness and would remind us that every good gift is from above (James 1:6-7, 1:17). We don’t serve a spiteful God; He is good and worthy of our trust.
Jesus taught the disciples the Lord’s Prayer and later modeled perfect obedience to the Lord’s Will in the Garden of Gethsemane. He poured out His heart to the Lord and asked for way around the pain to come, yet stepped into obedience. The pain Jesus experienced through His arrest, His trial and His crucifiction led to the eternal salvation for you and me.
Similarly, we ask we can pray for the Lord’s will to be done with boldness and full knowledge that He will carry us through whatever lays ahead because He is good and worthy of our trust. The author of James encourages us with the truth that however God answers our prayers, whatever trial awaits, God will do something with it (James 1:2-3, 1:12). He won’t waste our tears and He won’t waste our pain.
I’m not sure what type of trial you are facing today; I don’t know the outcomes of the test results or if the earthly justice you seek will come to pass. But, I know that the Lord hears you, He sees you and He is in this with you. He is producing steadfastness in you and molding you into the image of His beloved Son. The best is yet to come!