“This then, is how you should pray” (Matthew 6:9) are the words of Jesus prior to giving us the Lord’s Prayer. A petition that I have always found difficult to include in my prayers is, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. Or perhaps in even stronger terms when we find Jesus in the garden prior to Good Friday, he prays, “If it be possible may this cup pass, but not my will yours be done” (my paraphrase). Do we really want God’s will to be done in our lives?
During my last year of Seminary both my brother (age 32) and my Father (age 62) passed away. Certainly that was not my will! I did not pray for that to happen.
During many worship services in the churches when it is time for congregational prayer, the pastor will ask the congregation for prayer requests. I have led many of those worship services. Most of the requests ask specifically for something good to happen in a situation that has to do with sickness, unemployment, broken relationships or other situations that from a human perspective we do not want to see occur. Sometimes an individual will ask for a petition of thanksgiving because something good has happened in their lives. Now, make no mistake about it, I think that those petitions should be included in our prayers.
However, very seldom if ever do I hear the words, “Not my will but yours be done”. The only time that I can recall those words being included in the prayer is when the congregation ends the prayer with the words of the “Lord’s Prayer” in unison.
I wonder as leaders, elders and pastors, should we be teaching our people how to pray. Should we be asking more frequently the question, how should we pray? Answering that question by being role models that include the petition, “Not my will but your will be done”.
I believe prayer is a very important part of our relationship with God. But I also believe that how we pray should be something we think about often. It may be that we take for granted that we know how to pray even though we fail to include in our prayers submissiveness with God’s will which is not always the same as our will.