Dear CSOPC brothers and sisters,
From the Pastor’s Desk
“Your will be done”
Matthew 6:7-8, “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this …”
Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” In previous weeks we have considered the preface and the first two petitions of this prayer. Today we will consider the 3rd petition. What does it mean to pray, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”? What is God’s will? How is God’s will done in heaven? First we must consider the issue of God’s will. To begin it is helpful to distinguish between God’s ‘secret will’ and his ‘revealed will’ (Deut 29:29). God’s secret will – or his will of decree – is that which unfolds infallibly according to his purposes. That is to say, all that happens in the world happens according to God’s will (Eph 1:11). At the same time, however, the Bible speaks of God’s will for his people – his revealed will – or his will of precept. For example, Paul writes in 1 Thess 4:3, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification.” And later in the same letter he writes, “… pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (5:17-18). Put simply, God’s secret will includes all that unfolds according to his perfect plan and purpose; while his revealed will is God’s desire and calling for the Christian. Thus when we pray, “Your will be done on earth,” the revealed will of God is in view.
Second, we can ask the question, “How is God’s will done in heaven.” How do the angels and glorified believers obey the Lord in glory? Do they struggle in their obedience? Do they worship him half-heartedly and begrudgingly? No! For they worship him and obey him without the weight of sin. In other words, they obey him and worship him and serve him sincerely, completely, joyfully, and without question (Ps 103:20).
Third, to pray for God’s will to be done on earth … as it is done in heaven, is a prayer for obedience. It is a prayer that we would more and more deny ourselves and follow hard after our Lord (Matt 16:24). It is a prayer that we would joyfully and humbly follow our Lord wherever he leads, regardless of the cost (Ps 19:10; 119:97, 103-104). This is a prayer for humble and faithful and wholehearted obedience.
Fourth, it is helpful to note how the first three petitions of the Lord’s Prayer flow together. “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name.” How is the hallowing of God’s name to be expanded? It is expanded as his kingdom is expanded, ‘thy kingdom come.’ And how does the kingdom of God advance? Only as his will is more and more obeyed. Or we could turn it around – as God’s will is more and more done, so his kingdom more and more advances, and so his name is more and more hallowed! Brothers and sisters, Jesus was not teaching us some disjointed, scattered prayer; but he was teaching us what it is all about – the key to the Christian life – the glory of God and joyful submission to his word!!