Have you ever wondered why God asks us to bring every detail of our lives to him? And yet also insists we pray his will, not ours, to be done in the world?
In his teaching, Jesus shows that though God’s will is bigger than any one of us, it includes us in the smallest of ways. Nestled within the larger Lord’s prayer, Jesus taught us to pray:
Your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread. (Matt 6:10-11 NIV)
The move is seamless. From “kingdom come” to “daily bread”, Jesus leads us to ask for God’s heavenly will to be done on earth and for our daily needs to be met. He commands us to pray for our Father’s name to be hallowed and for our sins to be forgiven. The first half of Jesus’ prayer seems bigger than we can imagine, and then the second, smaller than we had expected. The first, all about God; the second, all about us.
And this leads us into something beautiful.
Like a bridge inside the prayer, Jesus spans two seemingly different realities–God’s large plan and our little needs. Jesus’ prayer connects the big and the small, revealing his Father’s heart–the same God who created the world and oversees its direction also attends to the lives of its little inhabitants. But this prayer bridge also tells us something about his will, too.
As we follow Jesus’ leadership across this prayer bridge, two worlds begin to merge. We discover our big and small petitions are connected. God’s ultimate plan, it turns out, is realized within the world of fed people, provisioned children, delivered families, loved men and empowered women. The Father’s name is hallowed as people experience the grace of Jesus in their struggle to forgive. The Father’s will is done as men are lead away from temptation. His kingdom comes as once-shackled souls find deliverance from evil. The bigger-than-any-of-us plan of the Father finds its fulfillment in the intimate restoration of each and every person.
What a difference this makes in our prayers. What a change this brings in our experience with our Father. What confidence this instills. Asking the Father for his will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven, leads us to seek his will in our hungry, wounded, tempted little worlds. And as we do, we see God’s big will and our little lives become beautifully joined in his loving heart.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV)
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:31-33 NIV)