Monday, September 13, 2010
Archbishop Thomas Wenski - The Archdiocese of Miami
This why even in his Agony, in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prays: “Father, not my will but your will be done.” And, this is exactly how Jesus teaches us to pray – for Christian prayer is not trying to change God’s mind but it is seeking to know
God’s mind, and in knowing it, seeking the courage to follow it. “Thy will be done on earth and it is in heaven”.
Too often, however, we fall into a “Pagan way” of prayer: negotiating with God, we seek to “bribe” him by making promises we know that we cannot or will not fulfill; or we seek to wear him down with our insistent pleadings. How many times do we come across a person who has lost faith because of a prayer that apparently went unanswered? More likely, prayers were answered but not the way the person wanted them answered. If we pray: “My will be done”, the Lord who knows better than us what we truly need, might answer: “No”. And such a “no” does not mean that God doesn’t love us or that he has abandoned us. As any parent knows, “No” many times is the more loving response even when a child wants to hear “Yes”.
A Christian’s prayer is prayer is like trying to bring a boat into dock. When a boat gets close to the dock or pier, someone throws out a rope (or a line, as those who are familiar with boating would insist.) The line is thrown out on to the dock and is tied to a piling. Then, the man in the boat pulls on the line – and in pulling the line, the boat comes up along side the dock. Pulling the line does not move the dock, it moves the boat. And pulling on that line more often than not requires great effort and perseverance – especially if the waters are particularly choppy.
God’s will is for us to know his love. God’s will is for us to have life, life abundantly. Who needs to change that? Prayer, then, is not about changing God, or changing God’s mind or will. It is about changing us – bringing us closer to him, to his will, to his plan for our lives. Jesus tells us: “Just as I have loved you, you should love one another.” (John 13: 34) That we love is God’s will; and prayer makes love possible. Prayer can be difficult; it can require much effort; it is only learned by constant practice. But prayer pulls us in closer to God and to the knowledge of his will for us.
Can we dare pray, “Thy will be done.”?