Monday, October 22, 2018

There are only two places in scripture where the expression “thy (your) will be done.”  One is when Jesus was teaching the disciples to pray in what is commonly referred to as “The Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6:10; Luke 11:2).  The other was when Jesus was praying in the garden before his arrest (Matthew 26:42).  In today’s prayers the phrase is usually, “Lord, if it be your will” do this or that.

Some pray for the sick with, “Lord, if it is your will, heal brother Joe.”  Could that be a misunderstood “hidden” message that we are not aware of?  For example, if Joe isn’t healed, will God be blamed? When the preacher states, “If you are faithful, God will richly bless you,” but a family’s 16-year-old dies in a freak accident.  Will this be understood as punishment for the parent’s imperfect faith?  Sometimes, without realizing it, some find hidden meanings in some phrases that may be understood by the individual in the wrong way.  Is being misunderstood a gamble we all have whether we realize it or not?

The publican praying with the Pharisee did not believe himself to be justified, but he went home with that gift.  The Pharisee thought his righteousness would attract God’s complete attention from that tax collector, but justification slipped through his fingers and fell in disarray at his feet.  Paul said, “I will pray with the Spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also” (1 Corinthians 12:15).  That’s a lofty goal given to all.

When we’re young we hear prayers using certain phrases and they become our mentor in offering our petitions.  Have you ever heard the following repeated?

  • “Guide, guard, and direct us”?
  • “If it by thy will, give us a home in heaven if we’ve been found faithful”?
  • “Give the preacher a ready recollection of thy word”?
  • “Bless the sick and afflicted in this church”?

These are just a few that are commonly heard.  Don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying a person cannot used these phrases in prayer.  When the apostles asked to be taught how to pray, didn’t Jesus give them a model (Matthew 6:9-13)?  We call it “The Lord’s Prayer,” when it was for the disciples.  Did Jesus give something that would be sinful for a disciple to repeat?  Some believe the expression “thy kingdom come” should be omitted.  However, don’t we desire His kingdom to come into the hearts of those who are lost?  Don’t we want it to come in appreciative growth in our own lives?  Since we are broken individuals, don’t we “mess up” even in that?  Another item to watch is mimicking the Pharisee rather than the publican when it comes to assuming another person’s motives.

As a preacher I have had members call on Sunday afternoon questioning why I said a specific thing in my sermon which they believed was questionable.  When I asked them to repeat what I said, they did so without a flaw.  Yet, their understanding was not what I meant.  As flawed individuals, we sometimes assign motives for something said which was not in the heart of the speaker.  The next time you pray, “Guide, guard, and direct us,” I’ll need to understand that I too need God’s guidance, guarding, and direction.  I may not use that expression in my prayers, but I’m sure some know what I’m going to say in my prayer before I say it.

I will pray with the Spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also” (1 Corinthians 12:15).   A lofty goal!