You can always petition the Almighty for what you want, but here’s a phrase you might add at the end.
Posted in , Sep 23, 2020
I’m pretty sure I’ve prayed the Lord’s Prayer since preschool, and I’ve prayed it daily for many years. So, I figure I’ve prayed “Thy will be done” thousands of times. Sometimes, when I’m feeling most submissive and surrendered, I even pray, “not my will, but Thine be done,” as Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.
For all my experience, however, it’s not easy to pray it sincerely. I want to mean it. I hope I mean it. And maybe, of the thousands of times I’ve prayed it, I’ve really meant it a hundred times. And that may be a tad optimistic.
But I’ve learned another way to pray for God’s will that helps me do so a lot more honestly and sincerely. It doesn’t feel as spiritual as “Thy will be done,” or as abandoned as “not my will, but Thine.” But it sure has been a help.
Much of the time, when I pray, I pretty much know what I want. I even think I know what God wants. (After all, in the Bible He says a lot about the things He wants: love, grace, mercy, justice, life and so on.) For example, if I pray for someone to come to an experience of new life through faith in Jesus Christ, praying “Thy will be done” can feel redundant. The Bible already says that God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9, KJV). Similarly, when I pray to become more like Jesus, I know that “this is the will of God, even [my] sanctification” (1 Thessalonians 4:3, KJV). And so it goes.
But “Thy will be done” isn’t always so clear. I know that God’s thoughts are not my thoughts, and His ways are not my ways, as Isaiah 55:8 makes clear. His timing is hardly ever my timing, and His tactics and strategies are often inscrutable to me. At such moments, my new way of praying for God’s will comes in handy. In this case, I’ll pray according to my (admittedly limited) wisdom and then add, “unless you have a better idea.”
Of course, God’s ideas are always better than mine, and I’ll often say so when I pray that way. His will is a “good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2, NIV), always. That’s the context of my prayer, “unless you have a better idea.”
It’s not fancy. And maybe it won’t feel right to you, but it helps me remember that God’s in charge. He’s much smarter than I am, and I want everything I ask of Him to be granted only if and when it’s His idea too.