Thursday, January 26, 2012

"...THY WILL Be Done, On Earth As It Is In Heaven."

I subscribe to a couple email-based prayer chains, one for a church that I used to attend a decade ago, another for one I currently attend. I am amazed at the sheer volume of prayer requests that some folks put forth some days, prompting me to ask myself, "am I not praying about every little trouble in my life enough?"

Even more interesting is the quality of the prayer requests -- more specifically, the mundanity and/or inanity of them. Now, please forgive me, I do not mean to sound like I am mocking, because there are folks on these lists who have legitimate prayer need and have nowhere else to go -- and I admittedly often sound like an idiot when I put my petitions to God into words. And God most certainly makes it clear in His Word that we are to bring all of our concerns, large and small, to Him -- to "pray without ceasing."

However, I'm left to wonder it in anyone's best interest (except perhaps the earthly church's) to pray for perfect weather and a good turnout for a church fundraiser? How about asking your fellow believers to pray that one of your scheduled appointments is kept at the appointed time, or to ask for "travel mercies" on your behalf? Or perhaps the worst, most self-serving prayer request I've ever seen -- a plea submitted to the prayer chain by a well-meaning woman asking for a difficult situation at work to "be decided in her favor." Seriously? Could we have some context so that we know exactly what we're praying for??

I'm a pretty simple guy when it comes to Scripture -- and I tend to take things pretty literally. I know Christ had a fair amount to say about praying in His Name (John 14:12-14, John 16:22-24), however, I nearly always go back to one basic playbook for direction when it comes to prayer -- the all-time best model for prayer there is, the Lord's Prayer. The one line that so many folks skip over, or recite by rote, is "Thy Will be done." But I want you to stop and think about the import of that phrase for a moment -- you are supplicating your wishes, wants and needs to those of God, and asking for yours to match up with His, both in this world and in the next. Or you should be. I should be. We all should be.

That line of the Lord's Prayer sticks out (and often burns) like a red-hot poker whenever I recite the entire passage, either to myself or in church -- it always has for some reason since I accepted Christ as my Savior in my early 20s. It is a critically important line that carries a strong and clear implication in my view -- God's will is paramount to ours, it must always take precedence, and His Will and ours do not always match up. That means that even though we pray for it to be sunny, we have to accept rain as God's will; similarly (and perhaps more difficult), when we pray for the quick and painless recovery of a loved one who is very sick or dying, and God takes that person from us, we are called to accept that as part of God's will, too. As difficult and painful as that, and so many other situations in life are.

God's will is a difficult subject that should be discussed at greather length than what I've only touched on briefly here, however, it's a topic that always pops into my head when I read 80% of the prayer requests from the electronic prayer chain emails. Think long and hard about that line of the Lord's Prayer the next time you're reciting it.