“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9,10).
IF OUR INTENT IS TO SEEK GOD, THEN WE MUST LEARN HOW TO SEEK HIS WILL. We all have a tendency to think we’re seeking God when what we’re really seeking is His ratification of our own will. It takes a lot of spiritual growth to be able to pray with integrity, “Your will be done.”
Whatever specific requests we make of our Lord ought to be made with great reverence and humility. It is true that we are encouraged to come to God with the confidence that comes from love (Matthew 7:7–11), but in our love for God we must not forget to love His wisdom. Letting the Lord decide what is best should not be something we do reluctantly or grudgingly. If we’re thinking as we should about God, we’ll rejoice and revel in whatever His will is, knowing that the accomplishment of His purposes will result in ends that are not only wiser, but ultimately more joyful than any our own desires would have produced. If our reverence for God is real, however, we’ll show that reverence by yielding to His will in every instance, whether what happens next seems to be joyful or not. When faced with choices between good, better, and best, sincere seekers make these choices by deferring to God. “Lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5), the wise man said.
So the purpose of our praying should be to put ourselves in the Lord’s hands and trust His judgment. Yet He has taught us to ask Him for what we think we need. He has promised to grant our requests when they don’t interfere with His larger purposes. And when the Lord does yield to what we ask, He does more than merely say “yes.” He not only gives what we ask; He gives a better version of the thing than we had envisioned. Did Mary not find this out at the wedding feast in Cana (John 2:1–12)? It is as Elizabeth Barrett Browning said in the Sonnets from the Portuguese: “God’s gifts put man’s best dreams to shame.” J. K. Maclean said it well: “If our petitions are in accordance with His will, and if we seek His glory in the asking, the answers will come in ways that will astonish us and fill our hearts with songs of thanksgiving.”
“O Lord, you know what is best for me. Let this or that be done, as you please. What you will, how much you will, and when you will” (Thomas à Kempis).