Beloit, WI

Beloit, WI
photo by Rod Gottfredsen

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Praying "Thy Will be Done"

I have always enjoyed reading.  I used to read one book at a time and stay with it until it was complete before starting to read something else.  However, in recent years, I have found it helpful to read a few books simultaneously over a longer period of time.  Sometimes this allows one book that I am reading to inform my thinking as I process what I am reading in another.  The most important benefit is that I seem to learn more from each book when I read it in segments.  Recently, I have been slowly making my way through Richard Eyer’s Pastoral Care Under the Cross.  It has been a long time since I was in seminary and each of my skill sets can use some refreshing.  A couple of weeks ago in my reading of this text, I came across the following gem that I would like to share with you.

Unlike the patient who, when all else fails, prays reluctantly and fatalistically “Thy will be done,” the Christian recognizes God’s will as a desired, confident, and joyful corrective of our bungling and frustrated efforts at determining what is best for us. To pray rightly “Thy will be done” is to trust that God’s intentions toward us are good and gracious. To pray for the will of God might be to ask ultimately for the opposite of what we want and to trust that the unknown quantity of His intention is tempered by love for us.  (Eyer, Richard C.. Pastoral Care Under the Cross: Revised Edition . Concordia Publishing House. Kindle Edition).

What Eyer describes is a way of thinking about prayer that reflects deep spiritual maturity.  While most of us don’t begin at this point in our journey it is hoped that we will grow toward it.  In fact, I pray regularly that the Holy Spirit will nurture my spiritual growth that my praying may more closely reflect the will of our Father who invites us to pray to Him.  I also pray for this for my children and for you.  Prayer that trusts God to provide for what we need according to His discretion is one of the ways in which we entrust ourselves to God’s care and mercy.  When it happens - the peace and joy that follow are nearly indescribable. 

Since we are sinners this does not come easily to us.  Sometimes we will be able to pray in a way that entrusts God with the result and other times we will feel a pressing need to voice our prayers with an accompanying list of instructions.  This is what the process of spiritual growth looks like and we need to allow ourselves the space to improve.  We should, however, be prepared for disappointment when our prayers come to resemble a list of demands rather than humble petitions.  The Holy Spirit is still working on me in this regard.  As we struggle with these matters, we can take comfort in Jesus’ words to his disciples after teaching them the Lord’s Prayer:  “11What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:11-13).  Even if we fail to pray aright - God Who alone is faithful will provide what we need.

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