By Pastor Glenn Pease
There is only one of the 50 states that is named after a man, and that is the state of Washington. It was originally named after King George III of England, and called New Georgia. When America acquired it from Britain, they called it Columbia, and later changed it to Washington in honor of the first President. This same piece of land bore the name of two great enemy leaders of the American Revolution: George III of England, and George Washington of the Colonies. It bears the name Washington now, however, because he was the George that got the job done, and he won. His name is honored in our land because he was victorious.
Some names are honored in more than one land. One of the most fascinating cases is that of the great Russian Admiral, Ivan Pavel. In 1788 Catherine the Great sent him to lead the Russian fleet against the Turks in the Black Sea, and Ivan won a stunning victory. He won many other battles at sea as well. But you say, so what, we never heard of the guy. That is because, as Paul Aurandt points out in his book Destiny, the name sounds different in Russian. Ivan in English is John, and Pavel is Paul. This great Russian hero is none other than the great American hero, John Paul Jones. This same man, because of the persuasion of Thomas Jefferson, made a name for himself in both the nations which became the super powers of the 20th century.
There are many who have made names that are honored in many lands, and some who are almost universally honored. This is the ultimate objective of the plan of God for this earth, that his name be universally honored. This is where prayer begins, says Jesus. This is the unifying principle that makes Christians all over the world, one. They might disagree on many things, but one thing all must hold in absolute unity is that God's name is to be honored universally. When you care enough to pray the very best, you pray, hallowed be thy name. Where ever the name of God is honored, people are open to God's rule, and there His kingdom will come. And where His kingdom comes, His will will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
The first three petitions of the Lord's Prayer are very much like the three Persons of the Godhead in that they are one. Any one of them includes the other two. You cannot honor His name without His kingdom coming and His will being done. You cannot see His kingdom come, and not honor His name, and do His will. You cannot do His will, and not honor His name, and see His kingdom come.
In Luke 11, Dr. Luke records another occasion when Jesus taught this same prayer, and there He says only the first two, and the third petition is missing. It is there by implication, however, for it is the logical result of God's kingdom coming. If He rules and reigns in your life, then His will will be your supreme guide, and you will do it. The fact that Jesus did not legalistically always say all three is evidence that He did not intend this prayer to be a magic formula. It cannot please God by merely being repeated over and over. It is not a form, but a guide by which we bring all of our desires into conformity with the purpose of God.
Here in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus gives us the balance of three God-centered desires, and three man-centered desires. Three represents the nature of God, who is triune, and it is fascinating how the three runs through all Scripture, and nature. God's Word and His world take on the nature of their Creator. All of nature is categorized as animal, mineral, or vegetable. It can also be, earth, water, and air. It is also, solid, liquid, and gas. There are hundreds of uses of three in the Bible. We cannot begin to look at them, but just note a few examples that have influenced all of history. The three friends of Job, the three wise men, with their three gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. On the Mount of Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah joined Jesus, making a three person conference, and Peter wanted to build three tabernacles to commemorate it. Jesus said destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up, and as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so will I be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
I share just these few well known references in order to establish how important threes are in the Bible. It has influenced all of literature. Take children stories in our own culture, for example. You have the three bears, the three little kittens, the three blind mice, the three little pigs, the three billy goats gruff, and the three little fishes. So many of the stories of history are about the kings three sons or three daughters, or the three musketeers. So many of the jokes you hear are of three men, or the Catholic, the Protestant, and the Jew. There is something about threes that give balance. So many of the popular sayings are three word sayings.
Blood, sweat, and tears.
Three cheers for the red, white, and blue.
Tom, Dick, and Harry.
Morning, noon, and night.
Tall, dark, and handsome.
Love, honor, and cherish.
Healthy, wealthy, and wise.
Faith, hope, and love.
A thorough study would produce many more examples. Three point sermons are not just the whim of pastors. The idea of three points to any message is based on the nature of God, reality, and the human need for balance. In three there is unity, strength, and completeness. Mary Davis wrote,
Three men, together riding,
Can win new worlds at their will;
Resolute, ne'er dividing,
Lead, and be victors still.
Three can laugh and doom a king.
Three can make the planet sing.
And I can add a line: Three can cover everything that God wants us to desire for Him. When we get the first three desires of the Lord's Prayer dominating our lives, we have reached the heights of success in Christian living. We want to focus on the third desire of this triumphant trinity of desires. There are some powerful implications involved in praying thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. First of all:
I. IT IMPLIES A GREAT NEGATIVE.
If we need to pray constantly that God's will be done on earth, it is quit evident that God's will is not done on earth much of the time. Everybody knows this is so, for it is self evident, even to the blind. Yet, many Christians refuse to face up to this reality, and try to promote the cruel idea that everything is the will of God. There is no way to measure the damage Christians have done with this perverted idea of the sovereignty of God, by which they mean, He is the cause of every terrible thing that happens in history.
If everything is the will of God, then there is no more meaningless prayer than one that asks that it be done. We might just as well ask that the world be round, that the stars be up, that birds be able to fly. Why not pray for the sun to be hot, and that fire would burn, and that gravity would hold us down? Jesus is not toying with us here, and playing theological tricks. He is teaching us the most important desires we can develop to be successful Christians, and one of them is the desire for God's will to be done. There is no way you can honestly develop such a desire if God's will is already always done. Therefore, any teaching that says all is the will of God, is a direct contradiction of Jesus.
The whole point of prayer is to cooperate with God in moving toward ideals. The reason we are to pray that God's name be honored is because it is everywhere dishonored. The reason we are to pray that His kingdom come is because God's rule and authority are rebelled against everywhere. The reason we are to pray that His will be done is because it is everywhere just not being done. These are the three great potentials of history, but right now they are not great realities. Being aware of this is the only protection we have
against the wiles of the devil. Christians who believe everything is the will of God are open game for every religious con artist, and cult leader, that comes along.
The world is so full of people who claim to know the will of God for everything, and everybody, that it takes a sucker being born every minute just to keep them all in business. The tragedy is not only the deception, but the dishonor it brings to the name of God among people who are thinkers. The man who founded the church of Satan in America, did so because of believers who dishonored the name of God. He was a reporter, who was often at the scene of accidents. After seeing children crushed and broken, and smashed to pieces, and then hearing, time and time again, Christians saying it was the will of God, he came to hate the God of Christians. That is why he formed a religion of Satanism to mock the Christians God. He will be judged, but the Christians who spouted such false theology, will also be held accountable.
If you study the history of communism and atheistic humanism, you will discover that one of the major reasons for their existence is the failure of Christians to honor the name of God by doing His will. Instead, they excepted the rotten state of the world, as it was,
as the will of God. The result was many anti-Christian movements. One of the most important things you can do for this fallen world is to acknowledge the truth that God's will is not done on earth as it is in heaven. That is why heaven is heaven, and earth is that place where so many are convinced is the only hell there is. Until we are willing to admit it is a hell-hole for many, and that this is not God's will, we will never take this prayer seriously, and never develop the desires that motive us to make a difference.
The Christians who have made a difference in history are those who, with deep conviction, have said of some evil, this is not the will of God, and by God's grace and power, I will help the world be rid of it. The idea of accepting everything, as if it is the will of gods, is a pagan idea. Christians have had to fight this idea all over the planet to save people from man made evil and tragedy. The Christian view is that no preventable evil and suffering is the will of God. If disease, starvation, and every evil you can imagine, can be prevented, then God is on the side of those who fight for its prevention. Before any such preventable evil, it is not Christian submission, but pagan fatalism to say, "Let me be still and murmur not, but breathe the prayer divinely taught, thy will be done." It is Christians who have so surrendered to evil who have brought darkness to the name of God. Those who destroy the kingdom of evil do the will of God, and bring honor to His name.
When man is not dominated by the desire to do the will of God, he will do his own will instead. This goes for the Christian, as well as everyone else. This is the primary cause for conflict, and the break down of unity in the family of God. Wyn Sutphin, the pastor of a great Presbyterian church, gives this example of how even pastors can fall into the trap of trying to use God to achieve their own will. He writes, "I remember that one minister once went so far as to engage a plane to circle Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. This was in the Dodger Days, and from that soaring pulpit he announced that he would make the prayers that would ensure the Dodgers victory! I have no sympathy with that, for, in the first place, its plain blasphemy, and in the second, I was rooting for the Yankees! Ah, you see! Instead of studying to know the will of God, most men prefer to deify their own."
History makes this clear, and you need look no further than your own heart to know that God's will is often resisted, rejected, replaced, or redesigned to fit our will. The only way you can ever really make this a real desire, and true prayer, is by acknowledging the reality of the great negative, which is, God's will is often not done. But now let's look at the positive.
II. IT IMPLIES A GREAT NOBILITY.
The proof that you cannot exalt God without lifting man is right here in this prayer. These first three petitions are God-centered, to be sure. It is God's name that is to be honored; God's kingdom that is to come, and God's will that is to be done. But let me ask you, who is it who will honor the name of God? Too whom will the kingdom of God come? Who will do the will of God on earth? The answer to all three is man.
This is not a prayer for the Cherubim and the Seraphim, and other angelic beings. They already honor God day and night, and they dwell in the fullness of His kingdom, and they do His will perfectly in heaven. They are the ideal fulfillment of this prayer. For them it is answered. Where it needs to be prayed and obeyed, is here on earth, where man is the pray-er and obey-er.
Man is lifted by this prayer to the nobility of being a child of the King, but it goes beyond this to make man a partner with God. There a lot of children who are parts of families, but who are not partners with the parents. Pastors have children with no interest in the ministry. Politicians have children who have no interest in politics. Business people have children who take no interest their business. They are in the family, but they are not partners. It is the same in the family of God, but it is not God's will. The heavenly Father expects every child to be a partner in His plan for man. In fact, He depends upon us to the point that if we do not become active partners, His will does not get done. Here is the basis for the dignity and nobility of every child of God.
God gives His children a great deal of responsibility. We need to recognize that God puts His trust in us, and He expects us to do His will on earth. He has a high respect for what His children can do in this world. If He wants us to desire these things deeply, and make them the primary prayers of our lives, He believes in us. He believes that we can bring honor to His name; that we can be channels of His power and rule in the world, and that we can do His will on earth, just like the unfallen angels of heaven. To pray this prayer, believing that you can be God's partner in getting His will done, is to have the kind of self-image that is the key to success in any realm of life.
Victor Serebriakoff was told, as a 15 year old, that he was not capable of being a student. He should drop out of school and learn a trade. He believed what he was told, and acted on that belief, and for 17 years went from one job to another. When he was 32 years old, he discovered, by an IQ test, that he was a genius. He had an IQ of 161. He believe what he was told, and instead of being a dunce, he started living like a genius. He wrote books, and became a successful business man. The Scripture says, "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he." We become what we think we are, or in other words, what we think we are, we are.
The Lord's Prayer can change our whole life just by what it can do for our self-image. If we really believe that we are partners with God in getting this world to be a place where God's will is done, it will raise our level of self-esteem, and spur us on to be what we can be. What is your value, and what is your worth? You are a channel for doing God's will on earth. The problem is, the average Christian undermines his own self-worth, and the nobility of his place in God's plan. There are so many outstanding Christians in this world, who make headlines, and who become well known. It seems unlikely for most to achieve this sort of fame, and so they tend to minimize their role in doing the will of God. This kind of thinking is eliminated by the one who really prays this prayer-thy will be done on earth. This is not an aristocratic prayer, designed for the few elite at the top. Is a family prayer for all the children of God, in every place, and at every time. Every child of God has the capability of doing God's will just as completely as any other.
I have books in my library I seldom use, for they are reference works that I only need to consult once in awhile. They are less valuable to me than books I use constantly. In fact, there are some books I use frequently that are of far less value than those I seldom use. Books have different functions, and they are not all alike, but each meets a need. Each becomes a partner with me in accomplishing my will. The same is true of a mechanic and his tools. Some he uses everyday, but others only occasionally, but that one he uses rarely is a vital part of his equipment. If he lacked it he could not accomplish his purpose as a mechanic. The point is, Christians are all different, and each has different gifts, but every child of God is a partner with God in getting his will done. Everyone of us is so unique, we may be the only one who can do the specific will of God, in our environment, at any particular time.
This not only gives us a nobility, but it ought to help us see why we ought to respect the self-worth, and potential, of others. Bill Morcy was a problem child, and as a teenager was listed as hopelessly bad. His school could not find a teacher who would take the class he was in. Finally, they found one who had the patience to work with the hopeless. Morcy slowly dropped his bad habits, and took an interest in his studies, because of this teachers concern. He went on to become a associate justice of the Supreme Court. Then he became a United States Senator, and then Governor of New York, and finally, Secretary of State. William L. Morcy served faithfully in all these great posts, and was a success because of one teacher who believed that God's will could be done through any person who would respond to love and encouragement.
This prayer is the backbone of Christians success, for it is the foundation for our confidence that God's will can be done, and it can be done by me. This is the needed balance in a world where so much is not the will of God. There is a need for a noble body of people who counteract this great negative, and provide the world with a great positive: A realm in which God reigns, and where the world can see the value and blessings of His will being done on earth. This prayer is only truly prayed by one who, with a true sense of partnership with God, believes he or she can be a tool to offset the great negative reality, and be a part of the answer, rather than part of the problem. It is a prayer like that of John Hay who wrote,
Not in dumb resignation,
We lift our hands on high.
Not like the nerveless fatalist
Content to twist and die.
Our faith springs like the eagle,
Who soars to meet the sun,
And cries exalting unto thee,
Oh Lord, thy will be done.
When this is truly our prayer, the kingdom will come, God's name will be honored, and His will will be done on earth, and it will be done through us who have this trinity of desires.