“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10, ESV).
When we hear the Lord’s Prayer recited, we usually hear emphasis on the words kingdom and will. It sounds like this: “Your kingdom come, your will be done” (emphasis mine).
We can subtly change the meaning of wording by altering what we accentuate. Try praying it like this: “Your kingdom come, your will be done” (emphasis mine). Whose kingdom—yours or God’s? God’s! In prayer, you submit your will and your territory to God. You bring your burdens before Him, not as an equal, but seeking and expecting His will to be done and His kingdom to prevail. You will be able to look back and say, “When I started to pray about this, I was praying the way I saw things. But as the weeks became months, I started praying differently because I came to see things God’s way. That reality changed what I asked for and the way I asked. Now I want what God wants for my life.”
Sometimes prayer changes things—and sometimes prayer changes me. And I start to pray more in line with what God wants than what I want. Prayer is part of the furnace God uses to fabricate His will. Praying puts us where He can work on us. That’s why we pray in submission, “Your will be done.”
Submission comes before wide-open prayer. Let’s be honest—many of us ask for silly or selfish things, or maybe we insist on our own way. But God doesn’t rule by committee, so through prayer, we submit and align our wills with God’s. That’s why Jesus said, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7). That’s not an open, unconditional invitation to ask for whatever you want, no strings attached. When you get yourself to a place of true submission to God, you can ask whatever you wish because you won’t ask for dumb stuff. You want what He wants, because your will is submitted to His.
We pray for God’s will to be done “on earth as it is in heaven.” How do you suppose God’s will works in heaven? If God says to the angels, “Build some more mansions,” do you think they respond, “We’re tied up right now,” or “We’ve got some supply problems, and the permits aren’t coming through”? I’m going to suggest that in heaven things happen exactly the way God wants, on time, every time. So when we pray, “Your will be done,” we’re declaring, “God, we long for it to be like it is in heaven. We want our lives to reflect the state where what You want happens on time, every time.” That’s a prayer of submission.
This post originally appeared on Dr. James MacDonald’s daily devotional Our Journey and was republished with permission.
James MacDonald (D. Min. Phoenix Seminary) is the founding senior pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel, leads the church-planting ministry of Harvest Bible Fellowship, teaches the practical application of God’s Word on the Walk in the Word radio and television programs, and is a gifted author and speaker. You can find out more about James and his ministries at WalkintheWord.org.