The scriptures* speak of God’s will in several ways. In some places, God’s will is what God has decided will happen. This part of God’s will is mostly hidden from us. We do not know what God has in mind until after it happens. The story of Joseph* in the Old Testament* is an example of this.
His brothers sold Joseph as a slave. He was taken to Egypt.* A woman lied about him, so he went to prison. Later, he would tell the leader in Egypt what the leader’s dream meant. Then, he would help his family and give them food when they had no food. And he would become a powerful leader in Egypt. At first, neither his brothers nor Joseph knew that God was at work in all of these things. But later, Joseph understood that all of the things that happened to him were part of God’s will.
Paul* spoke of God as the one ‘who works all things in a way that fits his plan and purpose.’ Paul may have been thinking of what God said through the prophet* Isaiah.* ‘What I plan will come to pass. I will do everything that I desire to do.’ There are times when the scriptures show that God causes something to happen. There are times when he allows things to happen that do not please him. But even in those things, God is working his good purposes.
The scripture also speaks of God’s will as the things that God has revealed to us in the Bible.* So, God’s will is what God wants us to do (and not do). We may not understand all that God is doing in the world. But he has not hidden what he wants us to do. God has made those things clear in the scriptures. So, we find God’s commands to us all through the Bible. God wants us to be kind to one another. Love our neighbors.* Do not steal. Do not get drunk. And act justly*, love mercy*, and walk humbly before our God.
We also ask God to help us to obey his will when it is clear to us. God has shown us what he wants us to do. He has shown us the kind of people he wants us to be. So, we pray that God would help us to do what we know that we should do. And to do these things as quickly as the angels in heaven. But we can not do God’s will this way unless we put aside our own will. That does not mean that we put away all of our desires. But when we find in ourselves desires that would not please our Father in heaven, we deny our desires to follow his.
When we pray, ‘may your will be done,’ we must remember both of the ways God’s will is used. We submit* to God’s purposes for us each day. We do not always know what will happen in our life each day. But when we pray, ‘may what you want to happen be done’ we remind ourselves that God has a purpose for all that happens. We pray this way so that we can be ready to accept whatever God sends or does not send.
When we pray this prayer, we are like a man who has a guest come to his home. The man welcomes his friend and says, ‘Please make yourself at home.’ Then, he hands his friend the keys to his house. He may expect that his friend may want to change some things in his house. But because he trusts his friend, he believes that whatever the friend does will be for good. When we pray this way, we give God the key to our lives. We tell him to come in and do as he pleases. We are handing the control of our ‘kingdom’* to Jesus, our King.
This part of the prayer should also give us hope.* God’s will is being done today in heaven. Now, we are asking the God who rules the heavens to do his will in our lives, this day and every day. So, this request helps us to look for ways to be a part of what God desires to do on earth.
When we pray, ‘may Your will be done,’ we are asking God to help us to desire the same things that he desires. When we come to want what he wants, we find true joy no matter what a day may bring. And this is the work that the Holy Spirit* is doing in us. He helps us to know God’s will. He helps us to trust* that God’s ways are best. The God, who is good, is in control of our lives. When we pray, ‘may your will be done,’ it is the best thing that we can ask for.
When I pray the Lord’s* Prayer, I am asking to be a part of God’s good purposes. I connect with the God who is Father. And I submit to the Father who is King.