Pray God's Will, Not Yours

Pray in such a way as to enlist in the cause of King Jesus. Pray His agenda, not yours.

Posted in , Jun 5, 2015

Man praying at sunrise.

When Jesus taught His followers to pray, one of the first things He told them to say was, “May Your kingdom come.” He spent much of His time and effort during His three years or so of active ministry defining and explaining God’s kingdom.

He said it is like a priceless treasure. He said it can be hidden,  yet it can grow in beauty and influence like you wouldn’t believe. He said it is living and growing within His followers. He showed that it is a mysterious, wonderful, healing, life-giving thing.

Frederick Buechner wrote,

“It is not a place, of course, but a condition. Kingship might be a better word.…As a poet, Jesus is maybe at his best in describing the feeling you get when you glimpse the Thing itself—the kingship of the king official at last and all the world his coronation. It’s like finding a million dollars in a field, he says, or a jewel worth a king’s ransom. It’s like finding something you hated to lose and thought you’d never find again—an old keepsake, a stray sheep, a missing child. When the Kingdom really comes, it’s as if the thing you lost and thought you’d never find again is yourself.”

The Kingdom of God is the “crazy and utterly risky vocation” of Jesus, N. T. Wright says. “And when He taught His disciples to pray, Thy Kingdom Come, He wanted them to pray that He would succeed in it.”


But He wants us to do more than that. To pray, “May Your kingdom come,” is to say, “I enlist in Your cause. I adopt Your agenda. ‘Here am I, send me’ (Isaiah 6:8, KJV).”

Praying “May Your kingdom come” is a visual exercise for me. As I say those words, every day (and usually multiple times in a day), I survey in my mind’s eye a panorama of where I want God’s kingdom to spread. The picture starts in me, with my heart and life, and flows outward, like a river.

I “see” God’s kingdom transforming my family, my children and their workplaces, my grandchildren and their schools, my neighborhood and church. I envision God’s kingdom changing “the east side” of my community, where people live in poverty and fear, enslaved by drugs and alcohol.

I visualize God’s kingdom invading the nearby prison I pass often in my travels until it becomes a place of reclamation and renewal. I see my nation’s capital, revolutionized by wisdom and teamwork and unity. I picture the Middle East (it’s amazing how far and fast you can travel in prayer) and see Jerusalem, a city I’ve come to love, where residents and neighbors alike enjoy peace and prosperity.

When I pray, “May Your kingdom come,” I pray for mercy, grace, and peace—in me and in those around me. When I pray, “May Your kingdom come,” I pray for His kingdom to invade seeking souls and hungry hearts.

I pray for love to conquer all. I pray for wars to end. I pray for the church to be healthy, united and effective. I pray for justice. I pray for diseases to be eradicated. I pray for racial reconciliation, sensible government, a healthy environment and a vigorous economy.

Presidential candidate John Kerry famously accepted his party’s nomination for the presidency of the United States by appearing onstage at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts, saluting, and saying “I’m John Kerry and I’m reporting for duty.”

Regardless of political persuasion, that is what a follower of Jesus Christ does when he or she prays, “May Your kingdom come.” It means, “I enlist in Your cause. I adopt Your agenda. I am reporting for duty.”

So pray like that. Pray cooperatively. Pray in such a way as to enlist in the cause of King Jesus. Pray His agenda, not yours.


Adapted from The Red Letter Prayer Life: 17 Words from Jesus to Inspire Practical, Purposeful, Powerful Prayer by Bob Hostetler.

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