When I pray the Our Father, I will often stop and contemplate one of the specific phrases. From “Our Father” to “deliver us from evil,” I find meditating upon each, provides a special opportunity to open oneself to God. The phrase I stop on most is “Thy will be done.” I think that praying this AND actually meaning it is the hardest thing for someone (especially an American) to do – at least it has presented a great challenge for me. I think the problem for me (and perhaps more than me?) comes in two distinct parts: greed and pride. I believe that these two sins are the greatest threat to living a Christian life. They prompt us to let go of our trust in God and take matters into our own hands. I’d like to share my thoughts on greed today and on pride in another post.
The first sense is one of greed. “My will” gives us more of what we want. We really mean “let my will be Thy will.”. The thinking is tantamount to the following: “I want what I want, and I want it ASAP.” We want to make more money. We want new things (car, house, computer, golf clubs, etc.). We want others to be a certain way. We want to be admired. We want recognition. We want to be in charge. We are focused on what we want, not what God wants – “my will” not “Thy will.”
But “my will” doesn’t work! It leads to anxiety, worry, and stress. We fret over situations, other people, our own abilities, or obstacles that stand between us and our goals. And when we do achieve them, we are unfulfilled – we want more and move on to the next conquest. “My will” does not feed the soul.
A focus on “my will” can also negatively change who we are. I work for myself now (and I am the toughest boss I ever had), but I had been a VP at a Fortune 1000 company. BI was doing pretty well by the world’s standard, and could have gone even further in the corporate world. But climbing the ladder requires an intense focus on particular goals at the expense of others. You can end up trading things you need to get what you want – time with family vs. time at work, compassion vs. company politics, helping others vs. helping me, growing a family vs. growing a bank account, building community vs. putting in the hours.
In contrast “Thy will” frees us and fills us. By doing “Thy will” we let go of control, and let God direct us. We still have goals, but now our effort is seeking alignment with God’s will through an ongoing process of discernment. We still work and strive, but it is different when we give up the driver’s seat. God does not stop filling us with love if we don’t succeed in the way the world judges. To God, “how” we live is more important than what we accomplish. When we accept this, and stop judging ourselves on the World’s terms, He will accomplish what he judges as great through us. When we can surrender that control, we can say “Thy will be done” and truly mean it.