Have you ever noticed that there are two distinct sections of the Lord’s Prayer?
Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy name;
Thy kingdom come;
Thy will be done one earth, as it is in heaven;
Give us this day our daily bread;
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us;
And lead us not into temptation;
But deliver us from evil.
It is divided into the “Thy petitions” and the “us petitions.” First we pray for the things of God, culminating in, “Thy will be done.” Then we pray for ourselves.
There’s something to be learned in this, and it’s more than just, “Put God first.” God answering these petitions is good for us. It is good for us when his name is regarded as holy. It is good for us when he exercises his kingly reign over all things. And it is good for us when his will is done, because God’s will is good and gracious. “Thy will be done” is a culmination of the first three petitions, because it captures everything that God knows to be good. In essence, we are praying, “Whatever you know to be good, do it.”
It is also a transition into the “us petitions.” After teaching us to pray, “Thy will be done,” Jesus is not going to teach us to pray anything that is not in accord with his Father’s will. So when we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” “Forgive us our trespasses,” “Lead us not into temptation,” and “Deliver us from evil,” all of that flows from, “Thy will be done.” These things are the good and gracious will of God.
So think of this when you pray the Lord’s Prayer. And also when you pray from the heart, pray for those things that you know to be in accord with God’s good and gracious will. We learn what these things are by reading the Scriptures. Remember that when we pray for the things God desires, we are praying for our own good, the good of our neighbors, and the good of the entire world. The will of God is always good and gracious.
May the peace of Christ be with you,