As you read through the book of Matthew, and the book of Luke, you will notice that
Jesus takes the time to teach the disciples how to pray. He teaches them first to start by praising God. They should give reverence to his name because of his holiness. He continues in Matthew 6:10, “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”
What exactly does Jesus mean when he teaches the disciples to pray like this, specifically when he was saying we should be praying, “thy will be done?”
Let’s look at these words that Jesus uses. They are so important to have the right heart and attitude when we pray.
What Is the Biblical Context of ''Thy Will Be Done"?
You will find the Lord’s Prayer in two different places in the Bible, Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:1-4. Jesus was teaching the disciples a new way to pray, not what was typically done during that time period. Prayer was done in public places for others to see, and to show how righteous a person was. Praise from others was something that was desired as well.
How Jesus taught the disciples to pray was exactly the opposite of what the religious norm was. In Matthew 6:6, Jesus says, “But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private,” and in Verse 7, “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again.” Jesus’ way was different. The kind of prayer he taught them had a different purpose. It wasn’t to do it for selfish reasons, but to align ourselves more with him. He told the disciples in verse 8 he, “knows exactly what you need before you ask him!” The main goal for us when we pray is not to get what we ask for, but to draw closer to Jesus. We learn to trust him more and realize that he has our best interests in mind. When we pray the part of the Lord’s Prayer that says, “thy will be done,” it fits well into the purposes Jesus has for prayer.
What Does "Thy Will Be Done" Mean?
What exactly does Jesus mean when he tells us to pray, “thy will be done?”
When you look at the whole sentence in the last part of Matthew 6:10, it says, “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven,” we are to ask for heaven and its ways, to come down to earth. We should want to see the purposes of God fulfilled here, as they are in heaven. Heaven and earth will one day be joined together, but until then we should pray that the things of heaven are done here.
If we want the things of heaven to be done on earth, we must submit to what the Lord will do here. When the purposes of heaven are fulfilled here, it may mean we don’t understand things happening in our own lives. The ways of the Lord are always going to be higher than ours, and it will may mean he will take us through things that are uncomfortable. We will have a choice, we will let him use circumstances in our lives to make us look more like him, or not. Either way, his will is going to be done here on earth, and he is going to be glorified through what happens.
When the Lord’s will is done here on earth, it also means the best possible outcome for us as believers. It can be easy to assume that the Lord does not care, especially when we experience hardship. The truth is we can trust that we have a loving Father, and that his plans mean the best for us.
Our God’s purposes will prevail in the end. Until that day comes, we can continue to petition our Lord for his will to be done. He will follow through until his plans are complete.
'Thy Will Be Done' Prayer - How to Pray This
To understand how to pray for God’s will to be done, we can again look at the example that Jesus gives us when he teaches the disciples how to pray.
Praying for God’s will to be done in our lives starts with the attitude of our hearts. As the Lord’s
Prayer begins in Matthew 6:9, Jesus gives reverence to the Lord, “Our Father in Heaven, may your name be kept holy.” He is putting himself under the authority of his Father who is in heaven, and declaring his holiness. If we pray for God’s will in our lives, we might need to be reminded of who he is. He is our Father in heaven who is in control of all things. Nothing is out of his reach. He is also all-knowing, which should give us comfort. He is not in the dark about what is going on with us.
As we learn to trust the Lord more and more, we are confident in who he is, and it gets easier to pray for his will in our lives. It probably won’t be something we pray only once, rather daily, and even moment to moment. Being human makes it likely that we will have moments where we will stumble, and have to re-direct our focus back to the Lord again. That is why the first part of the Lord’s prayer is such a good starting point for us. It brings us back to a place of awe and wonder of our God. It makes it easier to submit to him.
We can also bring this prayer into every part of our daily lives. As we go throughout the day, situations may arise where we might want to take control of how it will play out. Control of our lives was never something we were promised. If we try to control everything, we just end up carrying a burden that we were not supposed to carry at all. Instead, we can step back, take a moment to think about our situation, and then say “not my will, but yours be done, Lord.”
Praying for the Lord’s will to be done in our lives is not so much about the words we say, but the attitude of our hearts. When we have the right mindset, it gives us the ability to pray, not for selfish reasons, but submit to what the Lord wants in our lives. This can be such a beautiful thing, because it helps us to grow in our relationship with him, and helps us to become more and more like Jesus.
Father, thank you for teaching us how to pray. We submit our wills to yours, because we know that you are in complete control of everything. Thank you for having our best interests in mind, and for loving us so much. Help us trust you, and run back to you again when we start to doubt that your will is better than ours. Amen.
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Becky Weber is a wife, and mom to 4 kids. She loves to write and speak. She is a pastor’s wife in Sioux Falls, SD where her husband Adam is the lead pastor of Embrace Church. Her passion is to encourage others (especially women) to learn how to walk with Jesus on a daily basis. You can find more writing over at www.becweber.com and connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.