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Your Will Be Done

Among the many instructions given by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount are His directions for prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. This is commonly known as "the Lord's Prayer," but the Lord did not offer this prayer to His Father. Instead, this is a model of prayer given by the Lord for our learning.  Let us therefore consider His instruction concerning prayer:

9"Pray, then, in this way: 'Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name.  10Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  11Give us this day our daily bread.  12And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  13And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Amen.'"

These words were not given by the Lord for our rote recitation, but rather they exemplify a pattern for us to follow in prayer.  Within this pattern are the elements of praise for God, petitions for His kingdom, expressions of submission, requests for material provisions, acknowledgement of sins, and requests for the spiritual blessings of forgiveness and deliverance from evil.  These elements comprise a sound, faithful prayer.

For a moment, let us give attention to this particular petition within the Lord's model of prayer: "Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."  At first, this seems to be a broad and ambitious request, for it encompasses all of earth, and it seeks the standard of heaven. Just the thought of the whole earth doing the will of God in the likeness of heaven brings joy, but it seems to be an impossibility.  After all, the Scripture says that "the whole world lies in the power of the evil one" (1John 5:19).  However, a second look at this petition shows that it may be fulfilled without all of earth submitting to the will of God.  In fact, a single instance of God's will being done on earth is a providential answer to this request.

Therefore, let us recognize that God's will is often done on earth.  Certainly, His will is also often violated, for every sin is a transgression of His will, and the world is filled with sin.  The darkness of these sins can overwhelm us so that it seems as if God's will is never done.  Even so, God's will actually is done every time any single person obeys His word and in many other ways.  It is impossible for man to know all of the providential workings of God and how He executes His will in each person's life, but by faith we know that His word does not go forth without accomplishing what He desires (Isa. 55:11).

As we follow the Lord's instructions and make the petition for God's will ourselves, let us do so with the correct attitude and spirit.  In our hearts, this prayer should not be offered as a request for God to make everybody else obey Him.  If we do pray with this attitude, then we become like the Pharisee in the Lord's parable, who prayed, "God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector" (Luke 18:11). Like him, we would have a self-righteous spirit if the meaning of our prayer was, "God, make all those sinners do Your will as I do."  Instead, the attitude of this prayer should be one of submission.  This attitude was exemplified by Jesus Himself when He prayed to the Father about His impending suffering, saying, "Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done" (Luke 22:42). What followed the Lord's prayer was the greatest miscarriage of justice the world has ever known, which involved many sins by men who rebelled against God.  Even so, the will of God was done on earth through Jesus, and He submitted to His Father's will and facilitated its accomplishment.

If our hearts are right in prayer, then we will see that this petition is actually a commitment to do the will of God ourselves just as Jesus did.  In this way, we can help to fulfill our own requests. Granted, our sphere of control and influence within this world is relatively small, but within that sphere we can be mighty in the will of God.  In passage after passage of Scripture, we are told how we may do our part in making sure that God's will is done on earth as it is in heaven.  He wills that we be saved, believers, sanctified, servants of Christ, knowledgeable of the truth, joyful, prayerful, and thankful, just to name a few of His desires for us (John 6:39-40; Eph. 6:6; 1Thess. 4:3; 5:16-18; 1Tim. 2:14; 2Pet. 3:9).  In all of these, we may do the will of our Father in heaven and participate in the fulfillment of our own prayers.  We may even help others to do the same.

Therefore, let us pray for the will of God to be done with all sincerity.  Let us not only ask God to do His part, but let us be active in our own part.  Truly, the will of God should govern everything we do, and we should submit to His will even when we don't know what it is (see Jas. 4:13-15).  When we do know His will by His word, our ambition should be to do all we can to achieve His will and to "prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect" (Rom. 12:2).  If we do, then the Lord assures of an entrance into the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 7:21).

Stacey E. Durham




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