What does it mean to pray “Thy Will be Done?”

Most likely, you are familiar with the Lord’s Prayer found in Matthew 6 and the phrase, “Thy will be done.” But what do these words mean?


“Your kingdom comes, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10


Growing up, I would tack this phrase onto the end of all of my prayers as if it were somehow magical. “Oh Lord, I want a pony. Thy will be done.” As I child, I can remember countless adults doing the same. “Please Lord heal so and so. Thy will be done.” By following their example, I thought adding these four simple words to my prayers gave me direct access to God. As if by merely saying them, my wish and desires would come to fruition. Why, after all, if Jesus said them, they must be pretty powerful words. Maybe I could release the genie in the bottle and see all my wishes come true.


Funny thing, I never did get a pony.


Our prayers are not meant to get what we want, but rather to accept what we need.


Often when we pray, we want God to do things our way. We treat Him like a wishing well, presenting Him with a list of all the things we think we need to make us happy. Content. And comfortable. So that we can live well.


We treat prayer like a mathematical equation…if we say the right words and modify our behavior, then surely God will answer our prayers. Often, we work harder to clean up our act and spend more time in God’s Word. And we faithfully attend Bible study and tell countless others about our belief in God. Then, we think now…yes, now…I’ve been a good person. Thus, the key to answered prayer must be based on how I perform.


If our prayers sound eloquent and pretty, then maybe God will answer our prayers.


Or if we pray louder, then surely He will hear us.


And if we kneel by our bed, then undoubtedly, He will reply.


There have also been times that I have thought these words were not enough. Too simple. A cop-out. We just need to add something more. Throughout my lifetime, I have heard these four words spouted about. Taken for granted. Idly mentioned. Do we carelessly toss around The Lord’s Prayer in vain?


Jesus said these words to teach us that prayer is not just about the words said, but more so, about the condition of our heart. Prayer is how we see the power of God intervene in our everyday situations. When we say these words and mean what we say, suddenly we find ourselves in a place of complete surrender. Prayer brings us to a place of surrendering, where we are content to say “Thy will be done…and let me get out of the way.”

Prayer is not about changing the will of God, but rather about changing mine.


God will accomplish His work. Prayer is how God’s will, perfect in heaven above, is complete in our earthly circumstances. Jesus’ words are powerful. Authoritative and impactful. We can glean how prayer works. When Jesus prayed, it wasn’t wishful thinking or a misplaced hope. He wasn’t throwing out words at target practice. No, He knew what He said and He meant it.


He was declaring that God’s will be completed here on earth.


When we pray to trust and believing in the sovereignty of God, change happens. We can be confident that God will work. We can trust that God will carry out His plan. It may not look like we want or come how we please. But keep on praying, till the peace finally comes.


“We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defense. We pray when there’s nothing else we can do, but God wants us to pray before we do anything at all.

Most of us would prefer, however, to spend our time doing something that will get immediate results. We don’t want to wait for God to resolve matters in His good time because His idea of ‘good time’ is seldom in sync with ours.” –Oswald Chambers


Proving once again I had it all wrong, I’ve learned a lot through the years about prayer. True rest comes when we reach a place of accepting the will of God. Regardless of whether or not our expectations were met. Step by step learning to trust Him more.


What valuable lessons have you learned about prayer? Can you say, “Thy will be done?