My v. Thy Will Be Done by Rev. Jerome A. Magat
Reprinted with permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"
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Written to explain that
Christ came to save everyone.
Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples." He said to them, "When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation."
And he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, ' Friend, lend me three loves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,' and he says in reply from within, 'Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.' I tell you, if he does not get up to give the visitor the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence.
"And I tell you, ask and you will receive, seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy spirit to those who ask him?"
St. Luke's account of the Lord's Prayer is a powerful reminder of the efficacy of Divine Providence. After presenting the reader with the text of the Lord's Prayer, we are assured that our heavenly Father, the addressee of the prayer, is eminently aware of our various needs and that we can approach Him with confidence and childlike trust. God knows what is truly best for us in every aspect of our lives. Given this reality, Jesus asks us to place our trust in Providence by simply stating, "thy will be done."
As simple as this formula for trust in God may seem, the believer is confronted with the daunting task of truly placing one's trust in God. Quite often, we pray, "thy will be done," but in our hearts, we are really praying, "thy will be done my way." The logical conclusion of this type of prayer is to somehow try to manipulate God's will so that He fits into our lives and our preferences. Instead of truly allowing God to direct our lives (since He is the source and end of our very existence), we can begin to view God as a lucky charm or our "go-to" miracle worker. When we pray "thy will be done," this petition demands that the believer first acknowledge that God is more than just a part of his life. He is much more than that - God IS the life of the believer and it is incumbent upon the person making supplication to remain open to what God chooses for him. Thus, the truly mature prayer is to ask God to grant our desire if it be according to His holy will and our true good, regardless of what our preferences may be.
At times, individuals complain that God "does not answer my prayers." That is not always the case. God may answer our prayers but we may not always like His answers or His way. When God allows us to experience a slight taste of the Cross in order to purify us, we can be led to believe that He has abandoned us. This moved St. Teresa of Avila to remark, "We always find that those who walked closest to Christ were those who had to bear the greatest trials." The suffering we may endure is sometimes used as a way of breaking our willfulness so that we learn how to be led by the Lord.
The fast food chain, Burger King, once ran a marketing ad whose motto was, "Have it your Way." While this approach may be effective in attracting consumers, it is not the way of the Lord Jesus. His approach is better described as, ""Have it My Way." As often as we pray the Lord's Prayer, we do well to surrender our will over to Him, so that His will may be accomplished in us. May our docility lead us to make His way our own, even if that may involve suffering and purification. When we possess this mode of prayer, we learn that it is in surrendering to His will that we become truly free.
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