Reflections on Prayer - April
Matthew 6:10 “Thy will be done…”
By Lisa Espinoza
You’re headed out for dinner with friends or family, and someone asks, “Where shall we go eat?” You respond, “It doesn’t matter to me. Anywhere is fine.” Do you really mean it? If you’re like me (and you don’t have to admit it if you are), you actually have a craving for Mexican food. You end up at an Italian restaurant feeling more than a tad bit irritated at the fact that the evening didn’t quite measure up to your expectations. Enchiladas were calling your name, but here you are choking down a plate of high-carb low-protein fettuccine.
Many times when I pray—OK probably most times—my lips say, “Your will be done,” while my heart protests, “Pick MY way…pick MY way.” This month we focus on the portion of the Lord’s prayer that teaches us to exchange our own desires for those of our heavenly Father.
As we recently celebrated Good Friday, we remembered the prayer of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me…” This was a painful process during which Jesus admitted His desire for an alternative to the cross.
This week practice getting honest with yourself and God about what you want. For every request or concern you lay before the Lord, ask yourself, “If I were God, how would I really answer this prayer?” Be honest. God already knows your heart. Use your journal to write about your discoveries. How often do your gut-level desires match what you see in the life of Jesus…in the Word of God?
Let’s get back to Good Friday. We hear Jesus crying out, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me…” But His prayer doesn’t stop there. He continues, “Yet not as I will, but as You will."
Now that you recognize that your own will is often at odds with the will of God, you can take the next step in surrendering yourself to God’s will. You don’t want what God wants, but in the deepest recesses of your soul, you want to want what God wants.
Here’s where God gets really excited. You’re getting real. You realize that left to your own devices, you are incapable of desiring God’s will in all things. Write a prayer in your journal confessing your insufficiency and asking God to work in you to help you want what He wants—“For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13
Just days before He was crucified, Jesus told his disciples, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (John 12:24) Jesus was speaking, of course, of His own death. But He was also introducing a kingdom principle. When we die to our own desires, dreams, wishes and plans, we plant seeds that result in a harvest beyond what we could have ever imagined.
This week ask God to reveal to you the “kernels of wheat” in your life that need to fall to the ground and die so that God can amaze you with His power to bring forth life from death.
Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471), in his classic work The Imitation of Christ, shared four things one must do to learn “the way of peace and true liberty.” Two of these concern the will. “Strive to do another’s will rather than your own,” and “Always and in everything desire that the will of God may be completely fulfilled in you.” He continues, “The person who tries this will be treading the frontiers of peace and rest.”
Surrendering your own will can bring peace and rest. This week identify a situation or a relationship in your life that is causing you confusion, anxiety or turmoil. Each time you encounter this person or situation, pray this prayer. “Lord, I know what I want to happen here. But more than that, I want to want what you want. Work in my heart so that I have no desire except to see your will be done.”