When we moved, a few years ago, one of our kids was especially distraught. He said, “But I prayed that God would bring a friend to live on our street, and he did! So I think that means we’re supposed to stay on our street.”
Basically, his theology went like this: Prayer is asking God for the the things you want. You decide what would be good for you, and then you pray for it. And sometimes, God grants your request. God would never want to give you a bad thing, or have a good thing taken away–especially after he just answered your prayer! He gives good gifts to his children, after his children decide what ‘good’ is, and ask for it.
Unfortunately, my son may have caught his theology from me. But he didn’t get it from Jesus.
As Jesus teaches us how to pray using the Lord’s Prayer as an example, before he ever asks God for anything, he begins with,
Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Jesus not only taught this, but he lived it. Just before he was betrayed, and then crucified, he prayed, saying,
Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me.
Yet not my will, but yours be done.
Prayer is surrender. It’s giving up control. It’s not trying to leverage God. It’s not trying to get what you want. It’s laying down your hopes and dreams and plans, kneeling before God, and yielding your will to be enveloped in his will. There are often tears when you pray like Jesus did.
What troubles you today? What are you afraid might happen? What do you fear losing?
Jesus taught us to pray, “Your will be done,”–not because he calls us only to a life of sorrow. No, it is for the joy set before him that Jesus endured the cross, despising the shame. (Hebrews 12:12)
This joy is what we anticipate, also! Christians are the people whose hearts have been flooded with light, so that they see the rich and glorious inheritance that will one day be theirs. They anticipate the immeasurably great power that God will use to raise them from the dead–the same way he raised Jesus! (Eph. 1:18-19)
This hope, and this joy that is set before us, is the ‘Good’ in Good Friday. It’s what causes us to pray, “Your will be done.”