May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
"We are the heart and the soul, without the percussion section the band doesn't move, doesn't come alive. We are the pulse, and without a pulse you're dead. And that's why we're the most important part of the band." - Big Brother Ironman (Sean)
Intro: This section of the model prayer is the heart of the entire prayer. Every word and phrase of Jesus's instruction is vital for life and godliness, but this sentence captures the very essence of the entire prayer.
That God's will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Now the temptation is to escape into high theology when hearing these words. To get lost in the mountain tops of all the implications of concepts such as God's will. Heaven.
Theologians have fought for centuries over the very concept of God's will. His revealed will. His hidden will. His will of command, his will of decree. The very questions of whether God can desire something. Desire alludes to wanting and not having. Because you can't desire for what you already have.
And heaven. We talked about how heaven is often a reference to God's authority and his seat of power. But here it seems to be referring to an actual place. If Heaven is the template for God's will being done on earth, what is Heaven like? Are there really streets of gold, mansions to live in. Will we be playing harps in white robes, with halos for all eternity? It's easy and even tempting as a preacher to get lost in those thoughts, as worthy as they would be to take up and study.
But no, the power and the depth of what God is saying to us in Matthew 6:10 would be blunted if we sought refuge in obscure and long-standing theological debates. There is a time to get greater theological clarity and understanding, but this prayer holds far too much weight and gravity for our lives today, to get lost there.
You see, to pray. God's will be done on earth as it is in heaven, is not just a theological exercise, but to hold fast to those words may cost us our very lives. These words are the template not for a seminary class for the intellectually elite, but words of prayer for every Christian.
I want to begin by briefly unpacking the concept god's will. If we are to pray for it, then we must understand what is required of us.
Then, I want to explain what is meant by "in heaven". If Heaven is our model, what exactly is it?
And the bulk of our time, I want to unpack what it means to pray for God's will to be done on earth.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism
Q: What is the chief end of man
A: Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.
36 For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.
We along with all of God's creation was made for a purpose. And the chief end or highest reason for our existence is to Glorify God. And by glorify we mean to live in such a way that our lives point to God as a higher joy, a greater treasure, and our one true King.
So, before we understand what the specifics of God's will are. Whether he wants you to marry someone in particular, take a certain job, move to a specific part of town. Before seeking God's will, we must begin with an unconditional surrender to God's will, even before we know what it may mean for us exactly.
6 And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
A famous, or infamous verse that is often grossly distorted by the heresy that is the prosperity doctrine/gospel.
But this verse isn't elevating Faith. We're not talking about the need for Faith Conferences, or 10 steps to grow your faith, this verse isn't about faith at all. It's a verse about the object of our faith. What we are putting our faith in: Jesus!
To please God, we must believe he exists and we must believe that he rewards those who what? Seek after riches?
He rewards those who try to do the right thing every once in a while.
He rewards those who tithe their money on Sunday, but still live like the rest of the world every other day of the week?
He rewards those who seek him. God rewards those whose hearts cry out Abba Father.
That is what it means to unconditionally surrender to God's will and not our own. So to pray God's will is to pray in such a way that doesn't put your preferences, comfort, or even desires before God's will.
To say to God, I will obey you, if . . .
I will follow you if . . .
To put a condition on your obedience, on your allegiance, is not to serve God but to serve yourself. As long as God continues to be the means to my personal ends, then I will follow him. You see in that scenario, God isn't God. You are. Jesus isn't King. You are. That's not religious, that's idolatry of self.
To pray that god's will be done, is to unconditionally surrender, but not out of fear, but of trust and love.
Remember the second part of the westminster catechism answer. The chief end of man is to glorify God AND enjoy him forever.
4 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
You see on the other side of unconditional surrender is an inexplicable satisfaction. A joy that this world can't offer. But we don't get God, if there is an If in our relationship.
I wish that you were hot or cold, the bible says
15 “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other!
If we surrender we will be satisfied. Your will be done . .
That is the weight and magnitude of what it means to pray God's will be done,
So what does Jesus mean that we should pray God's will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Let me make a quick point about heaven. The point of Matthew 6:10 is to not explain the imagery of heaven, but merely for us to use Heaven as a reference point. As a blueprint for the desires of our heart.
What's important to know that God's will is done perfectly in heaven.
In heaven God’s will is perfectly done now, for there is nothing in heaven to hinder it, and the prayer looks for a similar state of affairs here on earth.
Morris, L. (1992). The Gospel according to Matthew (p. 146). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press.
We should be praying for God's will to be perfectly done her on earth. That alone should take our breath away. The thought that God seeks to submit this imperfect world to his perfect will.
But what does that mean? What exactly is God asking us to pray for?
First, remember we are praying god's will be done on earth. Jesus is going to address our personal and relational needs later in the prayer, Now Jesus's focus is how we should be praying on a macro level. For our world, for our nation, for our city.
And at least twice in scripture God shows us what his big picture desire is. Once in the Old Testament, and again in the New testament.
8 No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.
In the new testament, we call it the great commandment:
36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” 37 Jesus replied, “ ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
In both the OT and NT we see God's desires for mercy, justice and love. And that being the summation of all the scriptures.
So when we pray, God's will be done, we're praying at a minimum that mercy, justice and love, will fill this earth.
And nowhere is mercy, justice and love more clearly shown than in the Gospel. So God's highest desire is that men would repent of their sins and receive the adoption of the Spirit into His family.
Paul is instructing us to pray for our leaders and the authority over us and God says in his word:
3 This is good and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.
So there is a sense in which God's highest ideals are achieved through the work of salvation in the hearts of men.
But there is also a sense in which God's justice and righteousness are good for all.
12 But still, the law itself is holy, and its commands are holy and right and good.
So, although love, mercy and justice are achieved fully in salvation, they are still achieved in part when justice, mercy, and love is pursued even by sinful men.
So yes we pray, for salvation but we also righteousness to prevail even in a godless place.
Jews exiled in Babylon, which has become a symbol of evil and corruption.
7 And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.”
So when we pray, we pray for salvation, but we also pray for peace to rule and reign between now, and when God decides to save some.
So, God is calling us to pray for the salvation of this world. Both the spiritual salvation through repentance, but also the physical salvation through mercy, justice, and love.
But what happens after we pray. What happens after we unconditionally surrender to god's will. After we get on our knees and cry out to God for the salvation of this world. What next?
To understand how to pray God's will, and what to do next, all we need to do is look to Jesus.
39 He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
You see, Jesus didn't just command us to pray for God's will to be done, he modeled it for us.
On the same night that jesus would be betrayed, He was praying in a Garden. He had full knowledge of the incredible weight of sin and punishment he was to take on. And at the thought of being crushed for our iniquities he cried out
Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.
Yet, I want your will to be done, not mine.
And Jesus got up from that prayer and went to the cross for our sins and to the grave.
You see to pray for God's will, compels us to participate in the God's response. We can't pray for mercy, love, justice, and salvation to fill this earth and then get up and not work towards it. If it's the heart of God, then it must be our desire as well.
And then he got up from that grave, with all power in his hands.