When Jesus taught the disciples to pray, he gave them their assignment in these 7 words.
There are many interpretations of this phrase. It is often equated to events like Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane prior to his arrest and subsequent crucifixion.
“Yet not as I will, but as you will…. may your will be done.” (Matthew 26:39,42)
“I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.” (John 5:30).
These readings never sat right with me. They all seemed reluctant. It’s clear Jesus didn’t want to be crucified. Neither would I! But there is a difference between facing a Roman crucifixion and praying your standard, run-of-the-mill prayer. It doesn’t make sense that we would be reluctant to pray everyday prayers (unless they were the only thing between us and the meal).
Right before this phrase, he prays “thy kingdom come”. For a long time, I saw this as rooting for Jesus’ return, primarily so I would no longer have to pay bills and avoid stressing over the amount of bacon I ate. But by the time the kingdom comes, God’s will is going to be forever in place. There would be no need to pray for the kingdom to come if the kingdom were already here.
If Jesus is telling us to pray this now, in the pre-kingdom come era, it must mean something else besides resignation and hoping for a rapture.
Perhaps he meant we should be doing something instead of waiting for God to do it. It seems the point is that we should be working with God to create a heavenly environment on Earth…now!
Seems impossible, right? Maybe it is. Maybe not. We don’t know. What we do know is we aren’t there yet. We aren’t even close. There is a lot of work left to do before this place looks remotely like heaven. If we fall short, the Earth would still be much better off than it is now. In that sense, the only way we fail is if we do not try.
So we pray…asking for his support as we try our best to make things ‘on Earth as they are in Heaven.’