On Prayer XXVI: “Thy Will Be Done, on Earth as it is in Heaven”

We need to relate to God with confidence. Children often ask their parents for something that the latter don’t give them because they consider it to be dangerous. Years go by, and one understands just how right one’s parents were. So it is with us. Time passes, and we suddenly understand just how much more beneficial what the Lord sent us was than what we had wanted to get according to our own will.
We continue a series on prayer, transcribed from television episodes presented on Russian television in the spring of 1999 by Fr. (now Metropolitan) Hilarion (Alfeyev) with the blessing of His Holiness, the late Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia. We hope to present three sections a week, each of which is relatively brief but substantial, for a total of thirty-two episodes.

Continued from part XXV.

How lightly we speak these words! And how very rarely do we recognize that our will might not coincide with God’s will. After all, sometimes God sends us suffering, but we turn out to be incapable of accepting it as sent by God, and we murmur indignantly. How often do people, coming up to a priest, say: “I cannot agree with such-and-such; I understand that it’s God’s will, but I cannot come to terms with it.” What can one say to such a person? One isn’t about to say that, apparently, when saying the Lord’s Prayer he needs to replace the words “Thy will be done” with “My will be done”!

Each of us needs to struggle so that our will would correspond with God’s good will. We say: “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” That is, God’s will, which is already accomplished in Heaven, in the spiritual world, should also be accomplished here, on earth – and above all in our own lives. And we should be ready to follow God’s voice in everything. One needs to find the strength within oneself to deny one’s own will for the sake of fulfilling God’s will. Often, when praying, we ask for something from God, but do not receive it. And then it seems to us that our prayer has not been heard. We need to find the strength within ourselves to accept this “refusal” on God’s part as His will.

Recall Christ Who, on the eve of His death, prayed to His Father saying: O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me. But the cup did not pass, which means that the answer to His prayer was different: Jesus Christ was to drink this cup of suffering, affliction, and death. Knowing this, He said to the Father: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt (Matthew 26:39-42).

Such should be our relationship to God’s will, too. If we feel that some affliction is coming our way and that we will have to drink from a cup for which we might not have the strength, we can say: “Lord, if it is possible, take this cup of sorrow from me, let is pass from me.” But, like Christ, we should conclude our prayer with the words: “But not my will, but Thine be done.”

We need to relate to God with confidence. Children often ask their parents for something that the latter don’t give them because they consider it to be dangerous. Years go by, and one understands just how right one’s parents were. So it is with us. Time passes, and we suddenly understand just how much more beneficial what the Lord sent us was than what we had wanted to get according to our own will.

Translated from the Russian.

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