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13 November 2018

The “Your will be done” prayer.

Not just praying it for others, but ourselves. And meaning it!

The “Your will be done” prayer is part of the Lord’s Prayer. Obviously it’s the “Thy will be done” bit. Mt 6.10 I’ve already discussed where we’re praying for his will to be done. Today it’s more about how we fulfill that particular prayer of his. Yep, it’s about doing God’s will.

Typically when Christians pray “Your will be done,” we’re not talking about ourselves. We’re talking about everyone. “Thy will be done on earth,” is how the full clause goes, so we’re thinking about how God’s will gets done on earth as a whole, and by all humanity instead of us as individuals. When we pray it, we’re praying humanity collectively does God’s will. We’re not always remembering that we—you and I and everyone else—have to do God’s will too. Usually we’re thinking about how everybody else really oughta follow God’s will, ’cause they don’t, the earth sucks, and it’s their fault.

So when we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we’re not always praying that we do God’s will. We make it a prayer for everyone else. Everyone not us.

But we are part of collective humanity, and today let’s get away from how everybody else isn’t pulling their weight. When you pray “Your will be done,” trying praying it this way: “Your will be done by me.”

’Cause we do wanna do God’s will, right?

Well no, we don’t always. Let’s be honest. We wanna do our will. We’re ready and eager to do God’s will when it coincides with our will. God wants us to go to church, and if we like church, this is no problem! And if we hate church, this is a huge problem, and suddenly we’re gonna be very receptive to any Christian who tells us we might not have to go; that “the communion of saints” is an option, that you can forsake gathering together, He 10.25 and that you won’t grow undisciplined, weird, heretic, and less loving because you’ve no one to sharpen your iron. Pr 27.17 Basically we’ll just do our own thing, cling to any excuse for why God might be okay with it, and even imagine it was all his idea, if we can mentally get away with it.

So, sometimes we wanna do God’s will. Which is why we need to keep praying this prayer. We need to learn to always wanna do his will. We need God to not let us get away with weaseling out of it.

What comes after relinquishment.

The “Your will be done” prayer comes right after the “Not what I want” prayer. Richard Foster, in his book Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, bunches ’em together and calls them “the Prayer of Relinquishment.” With all due respect, “Not what I want” is relinquishment: Okay, I’m gonna surrender my desires, wants, “needs,” and impulses to God. But taking up God’s will instead: Is it wise to describe God’s will as relinquishment?

See, whenever Christians talk about setting aside our will for God’s, we’re in the really bad habit of talking about this as if it’s loss. As deprivation. Self-denial. Surrender. Doing without. Living with less.

That’s immediately what newbies and teenagers tend to think about: “Not my will but God’s. Well, my will is to do a bunch of stuff I consider fun. But I’ve gotta give all that stuff up for God.” They immediately think of Lenten-style fasts—but not just for the 40 days before Easter, but forever. All this fun stuff they wanna do, but can’t, ’cause God. No more weed. No more porn. No more swearing, and just after they learned some really cool swears. No more horrifically violent video games, ’cause Christians don’t approve of such things, so they’re pretty sure God might not approve of ’em either. No fun of any kind. God’s a killjoy.

Which is an entirely incorrect picture of God. He doesn’t want to suck all the fun out of our lives! Joy’s a fruit of the Spirit, remember? God wants his kids to have fun. But his ideas of fun are more fun than numbing your brain with alcohol and THC, then waking up in a pool of your own sick and wondering why your butt hurts. (From the poorly-chosen tattoo; what’d you think I meant? Pervs.)

To be fair, a lot of the reason new and young Christians worry God’s a killjoy, is because a whole lot of Christians are definitely killjoys. There are a lot of fruitless people out there who try to claim joy is actually patience to cover up the fact they lack joy. When Christians have fun, they object we’re not being solemn enough. When Christians enjoy ourselves, they fret we’re wasting time which should be spent ministering.

You know where that mindset comes from? Karma. Some part of ’em believes if we’re happy now, we need to be sad later in order to balance out the universe. So if we have too much fun in this age, we’re not gonna get any fun in the next—and they wanna enjoy heaven, so they’re determined to make earth no fun at all. Again, that’s karma, not grace. God isn’t short on resources, and that includes joy. If you’re suffering, seize joy Jm 1.2 —don’t figure, “I’ll suffer in this world so I can enjoy the next.” Stop doing that to yourself! It’s not how God’s kingdom works. At all.

The newbies who worry God wants to take away all our fun: Well, maybe he does, because you’re into sick ’n twisted “fun.” But he doesn’t want to take it away and leave us with nothing. He wants to give us better, and more. Jesus didn’t come to ruin everything we hold dear, but to replace all our ruined stuff with abundant life. Jn 10.10 And we gotta learn to trust this is what he’s up to. He wants to give, not take.

So “Not what I want” is relinquishment, but right after that comes “Your will be done”: God, what do you want me to have that’s way better than what I’ve just quit?

Because it is way better. You’ll see.