When I was a Pastor stateside I often coordinated local work days in my community. I would typically get harassed on these days because I often ended up driving from site to site and never actually doing any construction work (being in charge does have its benefits). This was the case one particular day, as I bounced from project to project making sure everyone had what they needed (especially donuts) and that things were progressing smoothly. As I was leaving one house, I noticed my car had been blocked in by another vehicle. Not wanting to go back into the house, and thinking my driving skills were particularly excellent, I decided I could back around the vehicle. On my first attempt I almost tipped my car over 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 comes to pass in our lives, even if it costs us our own plans. Many of us have probably felt like we’ve been in this situation all of 2020! Just as I did everything conceivable to get around the vehicle blocking mine we often go to great lengths to get what we want, rather than waiting to discover God desires for us. Often the results are not too dissimilar from my driving experience: we end up in places we should not be, 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 pray (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.
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 belongs the plan and its execution.” Here is the big question today: are we willing to pray such prayers? 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 and liberating prayers we can 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