Why does the Lord’s will often seem so difficult for us to accept? Most believers are not outright obstinate and rebellious. Generally speaking, we want to obey the Lord, and we want to desire God’s best for us. Yet, we often struggle with accepting the Lord’s will. I think a partial answer to the cause of this tension is found in Jesus’ model prayer. Jesus teaches us to pray “thy kingdom come, thy will be done.” The order of those phrases matters. When we are able to focus on God’s kingdom first then accepting His will becomes easier.
All people live with unmet expectations in this life. Disappointment is a common human experience (even for believers). Disappointment can spiral downward, however, as our hearts cling to these unmet expectations. We can move from disappointment to discontentment to despair and even to destructiveness (see the helpful diagram below from Julie Ganschow).
We often get to this place because our unmet expectations are more than just things we long for, they are things we convince ourselves we must have! In some sense they become our little kingdoms that we are willing to fight for. In such a framework, then, to lose our kingdom becomes an understandable cause of despair. This is why Jesus’ model prayer can be so helpful: it teaches us to desire a better kingdom.
Jesus teaches the disciples to pray, and his prayer establishes a helpful order for our own heart priorities. He says:
Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,(Matthew 6:9-13)
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
The prayer begins with a recognition of God, who He is and the praise He is owed. It ends with a plea for help in resisting temptation and protection from evil. Verse 10, however, interests me in particular today. As I think about my own struggles to submit to the will of the Lord, I note that it is often because God’s will does not seem to align with my desire. I have a vision for a kingdom of my own and God is not willing to give me such a kingdom. My values and priorities need to change, so that my own commitment to His will can change.
“Thy kingdom come,” is a prayer that submits to God’s glory and vision. His Kingdom is the one that matters. His Kingdom is the eternal, glorious, and beautiful one. And this Kingdom is ultimately for my good. We worry that in surrendering our kingdom to God’s will we will lose! But Jesus tells us, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). We win when we submit to God’s will; but we can only submit to that will when we believe His kingdom is better than ours!
Pray, then, for His kingdom to come! Pray that you will desire His kingdom more than your own! Pray for His Kingdom, so that you can also pray for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven! Let your little kingdom fall, so that you may enjoy the beauty of being part of His more glorious Kingdom! Let your heart long for His Kingdom and you will find submission to His will is easier.