QUESTION: Thy will be done – How do I pray in God’s will?
A prayer in the Bible commonly known as the Lord’s Prayer contains the phrase, “Thy will be done.” What did Jesus mean when He instructed us to pray that God’s will be done? He modeled this prayer for us as a way of telling us that when we pray to God, we should ask Him to handle every situation in the way that He deems best. How God chooses to handle something is His will, and Jesus was teaching us in the Lord’s Prayer that we should always pray for God’s will to be done in all situations.
When we were young, we needed to obtain our parents’ permission before we went somewhere or before we ate something, and so on. Our parents were in control, and they made decisions by their will concerning us, their children. They expected us to be obedient and ask their permission; and when they had given us their decision, they also expected us to obey.
This is an earthly picture of our relationship with God. He is our Heavenly Father, and we as His children, must come to Him and ask what His will is for our lives. When we repented and turned to God for forgiveness, we also made Him the Lord of our lives. That means He is in control, and it is His decisions (His will) that we must seek for everything that affects us. Praying for God’s will is an act of obedience, just like asking for our parents’ permission.
Whether we actually say, “Thy will be done” when we pray, or whether we use a less formal phrase, it is important to pray in God’s will. It is acceptable for us to tell God what our will is for a given situation, but then we should always defer to Him and let Him know that we desire His will above our own. Even Jesus did this in the Garden of Gethsemane when He was facing torture and death on the cross: “…he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will'” (Matthew 26:39).
When we pray, “Thy will be done,” we can also ask God to reveal His will clearly to us. We can pray with a humble heart, putting our own will aside and always seeking God’s will. Before each step we take, we can know that God will honor us by making His will known, so that we can be obedient to it.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
– We have all
and deserve God’s judgment.
, the Father, sent His only Son to satisfy that judgment for those who believe in Him.
, the creator and eternal Son of God, who lived a sinless life, loves us so much that He
for our sins, taking the punishment that we deserve, was
rose from the dead
according to the
. If you truly believe and trust this in your heart, receiving Jesus alone as your
, declaring, “
Jesus is Lord
,” you will be saved from
and spend eternity with God in heaven.
What is your response?
Yes, today I am deciding to follow JesusYes, I am already a follower of JesusI still have questions
Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
– Matthew 6:10b
In the third petition of the Lord’s prayer, Jesus instructs us to pray for God’s will to be done. This request flows from the petition for God’s kingdom to come, for the Lord’s kingdom is present where we find righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17). Such fruits are possible only as we do the will of God.
Yet, it might seem strange to pray for God’s will to be done. Scripture is quite clear that God’s will, at least in some sense, is always done. Ephesians 1:1, for instance, explains that the Lord “works all things according to the counsel of his will.” Psalm 115:3 adds that “our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” Such passages refer to what is commonly called the decretive will of God. In keeping with Deuteronomy 29:29, which tells us there are some things the Lord has revealed and some things He has not, Reformed theologians distinguish between the decretive and preceptive wills of God. The decretive will refers to God’s sovereign decree of whatsoever comes to pass. For the most part, this will is hidden from us, but it includes everything that actually happens in creation. If God ordains something in His decretive will, it will certainly come to pass.
Our Creator’s preceptive will, on the other hand, refers to those things that He finds morally pleasing in themselves. Think of the Ten Commandments—the positive things they enjoin such as the preservation of life, chastity, contentment, and so forth are pleasing to God. It is His will that such things be done because He approves of them. However, we know that God’s preceptive will is routinely broken. People violate the commandments; they go against His preceptive will. Yet, in such cases, we note that they are not going against His decretive will. For the sake of some greater good, God decrees some things that are in themselves detestable—sin—and that violate His preceptive will. Christ’s crucifixion is a good example of this. God ordained that those who murdered His Son would do their evil deed. Considered in itself, He hates that act of injustice (Acts 2:23). Those men who had Christ killed violated God’s preceptive will against murder. Even so, God decreed the crucifixion for a greater final good, namely, our salvation and His glory (see Rom. 8:28).
To pray for God’s will to be done is to pray for His preceptive will to be kept. Yet, it is more than that. It is to ask that people would do this will not merely out of duty but because they want to serve God with all their hearts.
It is not wrong to do God’s will because it is our duty to obey Him. However, God wants us to be content with His will, to seek to do His will not merely out of duty but because we are delighted to follow His commandments. By His grace, over the course of our lives, He makes us increasingly willing to obey Him even when it is hard. Let us pray that He would make us willing to do His will this day.
Passages for Further Study
Does God really mean it when He says that He will give us what we ask for? Bible texts come to our minds, such as Matthew 7:7, “Ask, and it will be given to you”… Will He really answer when we call? Isaiah 65:24: “Before you call I will answer, while you are still speaking, I will hear.”
Does God answer prayers?
Have you ever asked the question, why doesn’t prayer work? Why at times does it appear that God ignores us when we pray to Him. Many have prayed for God to intervene and solve a problem that they are struggling with, but sometimes God‘s apparent answer is silence.
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God knows what’s best
Even when we feel that God is not answering our prayers, you can always know God is a God of love. The Bible tells us He loves us:
John 3:16. ‘”For God so LOVED the world”…….
Jeremiah 31:3, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love.”….
God created us and knows infinitely more than we know. He knows what is best for us, and what would not be good for us. If you have children, when they were very small, sometimes they asked for things that would not be good for them, or would harm them. For good reasons sometimes parents do not always give their children what they ask for, when they ask for it. Parents give them what is best for them.
It is the same way in our prayers to God. God gives us what is best for us. We are God’s children and He gives us what is best for us, and at a time when it is best for us. Our lives must be right with God before He can answer our prayers.
God has certain conditions that must be met before our prayers can be answered. One of the first, is we feel our need of help from Him. Isaiah 44:3 says, “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground.” The heart must be open to the Spirit’s influence, or God’s blessing cannot be received. One cannot pour water into a cup that is already full.
If we have cherished sins in our lives, and refuse to give them up, or if we are doing things we should not be doing, and are disobeying Him, we cannot expect Him to answer our prayers. He cannot answer our prayers if we have sins in our lives that are unconfessed or if we are hanging on to cherished sins. Also, if we refuse to forgive others who have wronged us, God cannot hear us. (See Matthew 6:12 and Ephesians 4:32).
This is not saying you can earn God’s favor to answer your prayers, it will always be Jesus’s blood that makes us worthy; but we do need to do our part if God is going to work in our lives.
Pray without ceasing
One of the reasons we feel our prayers are not being answered, is because we stop praying. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says it best, “pray without ceasing.” Paul is more direct in Philippians 4:6, “In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
In reality, we should not be worried so much about if God hears our prayers – He does and He does care. What we should be worried about is if because of temptations, hard times, and trials we get discouraged, and give up praying. In Luke 18:1, Jesus, “spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.”
His time, His will
God is a God of love, and He is interested in every detail of our lives. He hears our prayers, and answers every sincere prayer if we meet His conditions. We must not expect that every answer will be “yes”, since we are sinners and do not always ask what is best for us. Sometimes His answer is “No’ and sometimes it is “wait.” (Hebrew 10:36) We need to end each prayer with, “Not my will but Your will.” Even if we are sincerely doing God’s will, and to the best of our ability, following His will for us, He may see that it is best for us not for Him to say “yes” at this time. We must continue trusting Him, regardless of His answer at the moment.
God’s timetable is not the same as ours. He knows better than we do when is the best time for our prayers to be answered. (See Hebrews 6 :13-15). God is eternal and does not measure time as we do. 2 Peter 3:8: “Beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”
In the story of Abraham, God promised a son to Abraham. But Abraham became impatient when Sarah didn‘t bear him a son, so he took his wife’s servant as his wife. Abraham tried to solve the problem in his own way and the result was disastrous. We are still seeing the results of his mistake today. God eventually answered his prayer at the time when He saw it was best for Abraham.
For God to give us what we ask for, we must ask “according to His will.” Faith cannot take the place of “asking according to God’s will.” 1 John 5:14, “…if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” If you do not ask according to God’s will, it is not real faith in God. If God’s answer is “No” we still must be willing to wait patiently, and trust God to answer in his own way and in His timing.
Trust God, even though it may seem like prayer doesn’t work. Even though it may seem like at the moment He is not near and has abandoned you.
“You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest regions, and said to you, You are my servant, I have chosen you, and have not cast you away. Fear not for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
If we have faith and sincerely trust God, we will not be concerned as to whether the answer is “wait” or the answer is “no” or “yes.” We must just trust, and wait and see if God in His timing will see fit to answer as we have requested, or perhaps He has something better in mind for us. Remember your prayer should end with “Not my will, Lord, but Your will.” (Luke 22:42). “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:5,6.
Would you like to know how to pray?
Our FREE Bible studies go over prayer and how to pray: Question Categories
by Matt Slick
Sometimes prayer is not so easy. We ask, we seek, we wait, we hope, and we yearn to hear from God. Yet, many times, what we ask for does not come to pass and our prayers seem to be spoken into the void. But, that can be quite good. Have there ever been prayers that you are glad were not answered? Sometimes our short sightedness causes us to pray outside the will of God, and that is the problem.
When Jesus was praying in Luke 22:42, in the Garden of Gethsemane, He asked the Father, “Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Thine be done.” Jesus did not want to go through the ordeal of the crucifixion and He asked the Father for a way out. His prayer was not answered the way Jesus requested. Nevertheless, He submitted His will to the will of the Father, and that is the key to prayer.
What would be a good prayer? Depending on the subject, it would be a request to the Lord to forgive, to heal, to reveal, to interceded, to help, etc. But, and this is important, we must realize that it is not our will that is to be done, but God’s. We must primarily ask for God’s will to be accomplished, not ours. This means that we must enter prayer by faith and accept, in advance, that what we are requesting may not be answered the way we hope it will. We must look to God as the wise counselor, the all-knowing Lord who loves us deeply and who hears our prayers, but has a divine plan and purpose for His creation that God will carry out. Therefore, we must not only pray for others, for forgiveness, for healing, etc., we must also pray that we are moved into the will of God in every area of our lives so that our prayers might more accurately reflect the will of God.
Furthermore, we must ask the Lord to reveal to us anything that we are doing that prevents our prayers from being heard and prevents us from being in His will. We must seek forgiveness for our sins and conformity to God’s purpose and plan. Then, our prayers will be more frequently answered.
Are your prayers answered? If not, perhaps you might want to evaluate whether or not you are in the will of God? Perhaps you might want to pray specifically to be in the will of God in your life, your desires, your location, your job, your service, etc. Ask God to speak to you and to guide you into His will.