Every Thought Captive

Your Will Be Done

“Pray then like this: 
‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. 
Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, 
on earth as it is in heaven. 
Give us this day our daily bread, 
and forgive us our debts, 
as we also have forgiven our debtors. 
And lead us not into temptation, 
but deliver us from evil.’”

Matthew 6:9-13

What does it mean to pray, “Your will be done”? Jesus Himself prayed this on the night before His death. After He had celebrated the Passover with His disciples, when Judas was in the act of betraying Him, Jesus went with His disciples into the Garden of Gethsemane where “He began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then He said to them, ‘My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with Me.’ And going a little farther He fell on His face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.’” (Matthew 26:37-39) He returned to the disciples, found them sleeping, rebuked them, and returned to pray: “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, Your will be done.” (Matthew 26:42)

“Your will be done” – Jesus Himself prays the words He taught His disciples. If the Son of God Himself relies on the providence of His Father, how much more ought we? Jesus, sorrowful unto death, prayed from the darkest night a soul can know. The cup of God’s wrath was about to be poured on Him, and Jesus knew this. The first time Jesus prayed, He pleaded with God to let that judgment not be laid upon Him, if that were possible, but also prayed, “Yet not as I will, but as You will.” The second time, He prayed, “Your will be done.” In Greek, this is phrased as an imperative statement, the grammatical construct normally used for commands. Jesus puts it in the strongest way possible. He did not say “may Your will be done” or “let Your will be done”, but something closer to “Do Your will!” (There is no precise English equivalent). Jesus is both troubled to the uttermost and relying on His Father’s will to the uttermost. Therefore, for us, though we will have troubles in this world that seem insurmountable, we will never be as troubled as Jesus. If He entrusted His life into the hands of His Father, then the same One who cares for a sparrow and numbers the hair on our heads also holds our lives in His merciful hands.

In the garden, Jesus prayed, “Your will be done”; having accepted God’s will on the cross, He prayed, “Into Your hands I commit My spirit” – saying essentially the same thing. We can see His trust in the Father through the rest of Psalm 31. Though Jesus only quotes verse five directly, it is safe to assume that He was meditating on the whole Psalm as He hung on the cross. Though originally a prayer of David, these verses apply completely to Christ as well, perfectly voicing His suffering.

Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress;
    my eye is wasted from grief;
    my soul and my body also. (v. 9)

Because of all my adversaries I have become a reproach,
    especially to my neighbors,
and an object of dread to my acquaintances;
    those who see me in the street flee from me. (v. 11)

For I hear the whispering of many—
    terror on every side!—
as they scheme together against me,
    as they plot to take my life. (v. 13)

But note how the Psalm ends (verses 22-24):

But You heard the voice of my pleas for mercy
    when I cried to You for help.
Love the LORD, all you His saints!
    The LORD preserves the faithful
    but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
    all you who wait for the LORD!

Even in the agony of the cross, Jesus knew how it would end – “The Lord preserves the faithful.” Even the very words that Jesus spoke aloud from the cross – “Into your hand I commit my spirit” – are directly followed in the Psalm with “You have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.” Though He experienced the Father turning His face away – “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” – Jesus believed that God would not abandon Him forever. Like Jesus, when we are in distress and we are overwhelmed by darkness, we can pray, “But I trust in You, O LORD; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!” (Psalm 31: 14-15). Like Jesus, we can pray, “Into Your hands I commit my spirit.” Like Jesus, we can pray, “Thy will be done.”

About the Author

Photograph of Nathan Davy

Nathan Davy

Associate Director of Music and Organist

Nathan Davy is the Associate Director of Music and Organist at Park Cities Presbyterian Church. He is married to Laura Davy, and they have five children. When not making music he enjoys running, reading, gardening, and playing chess.