I recently coordinates a work day in my community where teenagers worked on a number of different service projects on a Saturday morning. I always get harassed on these types of days because I end up driving from site to site and never actually doing any construction work (being in charge does have its benefits). This was the case this particular day, as I bounced from project to project making sure everyone had what they needed and that things were progressing smoothly. As I was leaving one house I noticed that my car had been blocked in by another vehicle in the driveway. Not wanting to go back into the house, and thinking my driving skills were particularly excellent, I decided that I could back around the vehicle. On my first attempt I almost tipped my car over on a bank, the second time I “brushed” against an electrical pole, and the third attempt I got the car stuck.
I think the above story illustrates an aspect of prayer many of us struggle with: praying that God’s will and plan comes to pass in our lives, even if it costs us our own plans. As I did everything conceivable to get around the vehicle blocking mine we often go to great lengths to get what we want, rather then what God desires for us. Often times the results aren’t too dissimilar from my driving experience: we end up in places we should not be and getting stuck instead of thriving. Jesus taught us the importance of praying for God’s will in our life when he gave his disciples instructions for how to play (instructions we call The Lord’s Prayer):
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10. When we pray we need to pray for God’s plans to transpire in our lives, just as His plans always work in Heaven. This means we surrender our own wants and desires to fully follow God’s plan.
One of my favorite theologians, 20th century Swiss pastor and professor Karl Barth, writes that “we need to let God’s plan be executed, to let it come to pass, for to God belong the plan and its execution.” Here is the big question for all of us today: are we willing to pray such a prayer? Are we willing to tell God that we want to follow his plans for our life, whatever they may be, rather then are own? In one respect this is one of the scariest and seemingly disorienting prayers we can pray. And yet, I think it is among the most important prayers for us to pray. It is us saying that we entrust our lives to the creator, sustainer, and savior of the universe, knowing that His plans are so much greater and mightier then ours.