My Will v. Thy Will Be Done

St. Luke's account of the Lord's Prayer is a powerful reminder of the efficacy of Divine Providence. After presenting the reader with the text of the Lord's Prayer, we are assured that our heavenly Father, the addressee of the prayer, is eminently aware of our various needs and that we can approach Him with confidence and childlike trust. God knows what is truly best for us in every aspect of our lives. Given this reality, Jesus asks us to place our trust in Providence by simply stating, "thy will be done."

As simple as this formula for trust in God may seem, the believer is confronted with the daunting task of truly placing one's trust in God. Quite often, we pray, "thy will be done," but in our hearts, we are really praying, "thy will be done my way." The logical conclusion of this type of prayer is to somehow try to manipulate God's will so that He fits into our lives and our preferences. Instead of truly allowing God to direct our lives (since He is the source and end of our very existence), we can begin to view God as a lucky charm or our "go-to" miracle worker.

To sincerely pray "thy will be done," demands that the believer first acknowledge that God is more than just a part of his life. He is much more than that — God is the life of the believer and it is incumbent upon the person making supplication to remain open to what God chooses for him. Thus, the truly mature prayer is to ask God to grant our desire if it be according to His holy will and our true good, regardless of what our preferences may be.

 At times, individuals complain that God "does not answer my prayers." That is not always the case. God may answer our prayers but we may not always like His answers or His way. When God allows us to experience a slight taste of the Cross in order to purify us, we can be led to believe that He has abandoned us. This moved St. Teresa of Avila to remark, "We always find that those who walked closest to Christ were those who had to bear the greatest trials." The suffering we may endure is sometimes used as a way of breaking our willfulness so that we learn how to be led by the Lord.

The fast food chain, Burger King, once ran a marketing ad whose motto was, "Have it your way." While this approach may be effective in attracting consumers, it is not the way of the Lord Jesus. His approach is better described as, "Have it My Way." As often as we pray the Lord's Prayer, we do well to surrender our will over to Him, so that His will may be accomplished in us. May our docility lead us to make His way our own, even if that may involve suffering and purification. When we possess this mode of prayer, we learn that it is in surrendering to His will that we become truly free.

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  • Guest

    Thank you. Very good food for thought.

  • Guest

    A wise priest at confession gave me this advice when I expressed my difficulty with this very issue – he told me to pray without petitions, only gratitude. It was then I realized my prayers were about 80% petition and only 20% gratitude. I have now reversed that proportion and it is truly a liberating feeling.

  • Guest

    Thank you, Fr. 

     Surrender is a life long lesson for me, so your words are a treasure.