The hardest word of prayer is always the first. It’s hard to start. “Our Father” is the hardest phrase of the Lord’s Prayer, but you can let it flow once you start. Once you are reminded that God is indeed your Father and that you are indeed his child, you can proceed, knowing that your words will be heard and that they will be answered.
Perhaps the next hardest words of the Lord’s Prayer are “Thy will be done.” They are, however, the most faith-filled words of the Lord’s Prayer. When we pray, “Thy will be done,” we more often than not pray against our own will. “Thy will be done” is akin to saying, “Whatever I have prayed for, whatever I have fretted over, whatever I have been anxious about, whatever I begged of you, dear Father, forget I even said it. If it is not according to your will.
“Your will in heaven is better than my will. What you desire is better than what I desire. You know more. You love more. You are wiser, and you are more compassionate. You know me better than I know me. You have my best interests in mind. I don’t. I might think I do, but I don’t. And it is not just because I do not have the perspective, experience, knowledge, and insight you do; it is because I am blinded by sin. I might have trouble believing it, but I know that your will is better than what I desire. So I’ll say it. I’ll pray it: ‘Thy will be done.’”
“Thy will be done” is the most faith-filled of all the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer.
But let’s be careful here. This does not mean that we should hold back our desires. We shouldn’t sanitize our words to the Father in a feeble attempt to make them sound pious and acceptable in his sight. First, he already knows what we want. So let it out. Ask for the brand new Corvette. Go ahead and ask. He already knows what you are thinking. There is no hiding your desires from him.
Your prayers are not what make you acceptable in his sight. You have already been made acceptable through the blood of Christ.
More importantly, your prayers are not what make you acceptable in his sight. You have already been made acceptable through the blood of Christ. The first words of the Lord’s Prayer is a reminder of your status before God. He is Father. More than that, he is your Father. You already enjoy a relationship of forgiveness and love. You are already his daughter or son. You are already cleansed in the blood of Christ. You are already a part of the family. You are already heirs of the riches of heaven.
So just let it out. Forget about your piety. There is no need to impress him. Forget about the grammar. Just speak. Don’t worry if your requests are right or not. He’ll give you the answer you need. Don’t worry about how the prayer sounds. You are not a street corner Pharisee showing off your righteousness to the world. Words of prayer are intimate words between Father and child. The problem with our prayer is not that we ask for too much, but that we ask for too little. As if God is too weak to handle our big concerns or as if he is too ignorant to know what we really desire.
And do not be afraid to lament, even complain. Again, he already knows what you are thinking anyway. Tell him that you are frustrated. Tell him that you are disappointed. Tell him that you are mad, even mad at him. He can take it. Like a child sitting on her father’s lap, pound your fists on his chest and scream, “Why?” And then feel his big burly arms wrap around you. Feel your face slowly pressed into his chest to muffle the cries in compassion as he tells you that it will be okay.
Finally, prayer is for us. Parents don’t wait for infants to ask for food with the proper please and thank you before they feed their children. Good parents care for and love their children no matter what they say. Parents put the words of a loving relationship on the lips of their children. The mother instructs her little one to say, “I love you, Mommy,” not so that the mother will love the child, but so that the child knows that theirs is a relationship of trust. “You can trust me,” the mother is saying to the child when she teaches her to say, “Please” and “Thank you.”
Prayer is not an exercise in piety, nor is it a prerequisite for receiving God’s favor as if he only loves those who first ask.
The same can be said of the Lord’s Prayer and every other prayer we were taught. These prayers are for us. They teach us the grammar of faith and the grammar of love. They teach us to say the words of faith like, “Our Father” and “Thy will be done.” Prayer teaches us what is important and what is not through the many answers - both no and yes - we receive. Through it all, we are taught to trust.
Prayer is not an exercise in piety, nor is it a prerequisite for receiving God’s favor as if he only loves those who first ask. What father brings home a newborn from the hospital, places the car seat on the front porch, and says, “When you are ready to ask for our love, then we will let you into the family”? The Father in heaven doesn’t act this way either.
So just pray. Let it out. Pray, “Thy will be done,” knowing that he will always do what is right and good for you, even if you can’t figure it out, even if you do not understand it, even if the grammar is terrible, even if it is less than poetic, even if it is less than pious, and even if you don’t get the Corvette. Just let it out. He is teaching you to trust. He will do right by you because he is your Father.