“Lord, teach us to pray.”
Jesus’ response to that simple request gives us what has been called the Prayer of Christian Identity: the Lord’s Prayer. In this prayer, Christians pray that God’s will be done—on earth as in heaven. God’s will is so important to Jesus that he makes it part of this short prayer. Why do you think this is so?
People sometimes interpret “God’s will” in ways that hardly make sense of a provident, loving God. A loved one dies at an early age, and people say, “It’s God’s will.” Some other misfortune or catastrophe happens—“It was God’s will.” Is that what Jesus means? Hardly! Let’s teach our children better than this.
Love is a verb as well as a noun. To love is to will good toward another. Think of “the good you will” toward your children. That good will translates into doing good things for them. Think of “the good you will” to the one’s for whom you are caregiver. Your love for them translates into doing for them in spite of much sacrifice, doesn’t it?
How does God will good for us? At the heart of God’s love are three things:
God makes us be.
God loves us (wills us) into existence. Our very being is because of God’s love. Encourage children to think about this: “I am because God loves me, God wants me to be. Other people might say or do hurtful, demeaning things to me. What is more true—their opinion or God’s?”
God loves us into all that we are capable of becoming.
Ask children to remember back as far as they can. Then make a list of things they have learned along the way. Make it fun. Then remind them: they can do all these things because God makes them able to. The truth is that God gives us so many abilities we can’t live long enough to develop all of them! Life is full of an endless array of choices.
God offers us friendship.
How important it is for everyone, from the youngest on up, to make friends. How much we want “a good friend” or “a best friend.” Let children know that their really good-best-and-for-always friend is God. God is always offering us his “cherishing love of friendship,” as St. Thomas Aquinas calls it. Our task is to accept, nourish, and enjoy it.
There are countless ways to “will good” toward God and neighbor. Above each of them is God’s overarching love. This love gives us existence, blesses us with abilities to develop and use, and makes us capable of being true friends. That’s God’s will. Living it out is our life’s great adventure.