Why ‘Thy Will Be Done’ Matters in Prayer

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Have you ever prayed a prayer like this? 

“O God, thank you for today. Here is what I want. You are God. Now make it happen. In Jesus name. Amen.”

I don’t know about you but I have prayed too many prayers like this. Yet the question begs to be asked: is this the essence of what prayer is all about?

In the gospel of Matthew Jesus instructs us how to pray. In fact, he uses these words in Matthew 6:9, “This then is how you should pray…”. After making this proclamation he then goes on to give us what is known as The Lord’s Prayer. This prayer was never meant to be recited, but it was given to us as a model or template for how we should pray. Within this prayer, Jesus makes a statement that is crucial and essential to having a successful prayer life. Those words are “Thy will be done.”

When you stop to think about what prayer is, I believe you will agree that many times we get it all wrong. Prayer is not about getting God to bend to the desires of your will. After all God is not some genie in a bottle ready to act at your beck and call.

Prayer is when you bend your will and desires to God’s will. It’s when you line up the plans on earth with the desires of heaven. Too often in prayer we only focus on what we want or need and somehow God’s plan or purpose gets left out of the equation.

The Challenge in Prayer

One of the reasons we struggle with the will of God in prayer is because we often go to God with an idea of what we believe is the best answer for the situation. Quite simply we think we know what is best and that’s usually what we ask God for. Here is the problem: our vision and thoughts are limited and God’s purposes go beyond our imaginations. Consider Isaiah 55:8-9

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

In the military, they have something called the chain of command. Often what happens is the general will send the decisions for what needs to be done down to the next in command below them. Eventually the decision makes its way to the soldiers in the field. The soldiers follow the order because they trust that those in command are making decisions that are best for the unit. They also trust that those above them have more information than they do. This is how it is in prayer.   

God sees more than we do. God knows more than we do. God’s plan involves us but also goes beyond us. That’s why when you pray it can’t just be about you and your desires. His will cannot be left out of the equation because he is operating at a level far above where we are. 

His Will Is Good for You

I remember growing up in church having conversations about the will of God. Somehow the will of God meant being a missionary, but not just a regular missionary. The fear was that God was going to send you to be a missionary in the deepest, darkest jungle somewhere in the Amazon or some other less developed area.

This thought process didn’t make God’s will welcoming, but made it something to be feared. The worry was that God’s plan was going to make you miserable, and who wants that? I believe for many this is the fear in prayer. Let me reassure you – you can trust God’s will for your life. You can trust that God has your best interests at heart. Because this is true, it should not be a strange or fearful thing to pray “your will be done.” In fact, it’s a great thing to pray because it takes you out of the picture and puts the answer and leading in his hands. That’s a great and safe place to be.

“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Jesus Practiced What He Preached

On the night Jesus was betrayed and before he was arrested, he withdrew to pray. These are the words he prayed:

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

Jesus knew the gravity of what was about to happen. He was about to suffer and become the sacrifice that would bring about our redemption. The reality of this was overwhelming. Yet in the moment he did the same thing he is asking of us, he prayed “your will be done.” He put his own desires aside so that the will of heaven could be accomplished in the earth.

Oh that you and I would pray and ask God for the things we need and desire, but at the end of the day let us be like Jesus and surrender everything to his perfect will.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

God Responds to His Will

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15).

God wants to accomplish his will in the earth. When you pray according to God’s will and you desire to do God’s will, your prayers become more powerful. The prayer that lines up with God’s will is the prayer that God will always answer. With this being the case, we should ask God to help us pray according to his will. When we do, we position God to hear us and when he does we know he will do what we are asking.

God’s will is a wonderful thing. It is nothing to be afraid of, but rather something to be embraced. There is only one thing left to do. Go and pray according to his will. God wants to do great things in your life and they will happen as you pray and as you line yourself up with his will. I will leave you with the words of Jesus. This then is how you should pray…Your will be done.

Clarence Haynes

Clarence Haynes