SOMETIMES IT'S WORTH IT to be out of step with the general consensus. This can be particularly true when it comes to praying.
For example, I frequently consider this line of the Lord's Prayer: "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." I take up this line with an earnest vigor, genuinely and fervently praying for God's will to be done. And I do this with a complete and total expectancy of good results.
But this is not the approach that many friends take. A lot of my neighbors pray "Thy will be done" in a spirit of resignation and disappointment. Their will is not being done; their plans and wishes are falling apart. And it's in a fatalistic tone that they murmur, "Thy will be done." There's no joy, no sense that God's will is good. It's more like a bowing to disappointment.
Some other friends make this pronouncement when they've been struck a severe blow in life. They lose a job, an important deal falls through, a relative dies. Then they intone, "Thy will be done." They equate bad events with God's will. They don't understand why such unhappy things should be His will; but all the same, they attribute these events to God.
Isn't it odd that the same words of prayer can have such different meanings to people? The friends I'm speaking of do not pray earnestly for God's will to be done. They really aren't sure they want that. And can you blame them, if the divine will brings pain, disappointment, and grief into life?
That's why I asked one friend: "Do you think there are sick people in heaven? Do you think that heaven is a place where people suffer?"
She was startled, and said, "Of course not."
So I made the point that, to me, when God's will is done in heaven, there is peace. There is health, happiness, and an unwavering expectation of good. When God's will is done, suffering disappears.
What, I asked, was the significance of Jesus' prayer "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven?" Should we expect the results to be different from his? There was a quiet pause. She understood what I was saying, but she couldn't really take it seriously. She was sure that heaven was a place of goodness. But at that time, it was too much to believe that earth could or should be the same.
At another time, I mentioned that Jesus not only taught us to pray, "Thy will be done," but showed us what happens as a result. When the blind, the lame, the sick, or the sinner came to Jesus for help, their suffering and sins disappeared. I don't think you'll find any occasion when a sick man or woman or child came to Jesus or his disciples, or to St. Paul, and were told, "Sorry, this disease is God's will." That never happened.
The Bible says Jesus had compassion when he saw human suffering. In "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," a book that gives insights into the life of Jesus, Mary Baker Eddy observed: "Jesus never asked if disease were acute or chronic, and he never recommended attention to laws of health, never gave drugs, never prayed to know if God were willing that a man should live. He understood man, whose Life is God, to be immortal, and knew that man has not two lives, one to be destroyed and the other to be made indestructible" (pg. 369). And she also noted that "he did the will of the Father. He healed sickness in defiance of what is called material law, but in accordance with God's law, the law of Mind" (pg. 168).
When Jesus prayed, "Thy will be done," health was restored, an individual's goodness was revealed, and men and women regained their God-given ability to be good. This certainly was not a prayer of resignation to sickness and distress. It never attributed human woe to God.
The power of God, the will of God, blesses human life. When Jesus prayed, people left their sick beds, brushed away their tears, and went out leaping and dancing and praising God. Isn't it important that we take this into account when we pray "Thy will be done?"
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