The Lord's Prayer
Thy Will Be Done (Mat. 6:10b)
by Rev. Ralph Allan Smith
God's glory will not be realized in history, nor will His kingdom come
until and unless men do His will on earth, as it is done in heaven.
This is the logic of the prayer and it indicates that third petition
completes the thought of the first two. Just as the glory of God cannot
be truly manifest unless the world is restored to Him as His kingdom,
so the world cannot be His kingdom in truth unless His will is actually
performed, day in and day out by the majority of men. To that end, we
pray for the fulfillment of His will on earth.
His Will Be Done by Us
Christians, as sinful men who can never perfectly fulfill the will
of God, need to pray daily for His help. This is the first meaning of
the petition for us. God's people have been redeemed from sin, but the
warfare with sin is a present and painful reality. Throughout their
lives, all Christians fight the fight Paul described in Romans 7:14-25
and the most important weapon in that fight is prayer.
When we pray, then, that God's will be done on earth, as it is in heaven,
we are praying first of all for ourselves as individual followers of
Jesus the Messiah, who are seeking to grow in Him and be better able
to do His will. Since the prayer begins "our Father," we are
also praying for other Christians, our family and friends, the members
of our local church, and, most broadly, all Christians everywhere.
What is the will of God that we seek? It can be summed up in various
ways. To begin with, we seek to fulfill the law of God as Jesus taught
it: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with
all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself"
(Mt. 22:37-39). Jesus here taught that essence of the law of God is
love, first love for God, then, also, love for our neighbor. What we
are seeking when we pray that God's will may be done on earth as it
is in heaven, is that we and all Christians may be able to love God
and one another as we should.
The way of love, to which all modern religions and secular philosophies
pay lip service, is to be our earnest pursuit. The world speaks of love,
but has no real definition of love nor has it the power of the Spirit
to enable man to overcome sin. We have both the Biblical teaching of
righteousness, the way of love, and the power of the Spirit, but we
also need to pray daily that God would enable us to love, for there
is nothing that is more unnatural for the sinner than to love.
The will of God is also expressed up in the ten commandments. Jesus'
two commandments summarized the ten commandments, the first five included
in Jesus' first command and the second five in Jesus' second command.
The ten commandments serve to make Jesus' two commandments more clear.
Again, modern men are will to pay lip service to the superficial meaning
of at least five commandments. Murder, adultery, stealing, and lying
are generally considered evil and respect to parents is generally regarded
as a good thing. Of course, the deeper meaning of these commands, implied
in the tenth commandment that deals with man's heart, is not something
generally accepted. Nor is it accepted that men will only really be
able to forsake the way of murder, adultery, stealing, and lying when
they trust in and rightly worship the true God.
But Christians must know that their obedience to the will of God begins
with and is all grounded in love for Him expressed in worship. When
we take the first and second commands seriously, we will also be concerned
about how we represent Him in the world, the way that we "wear"
His name. We will also take time to worship Him and seek to honor Him
in our relationships with others. The will of God that we seek to do,
then, is the will of God expressed in the ten commandments as their
meaning is explained by Jesus (cf. Mt. 5:17 ff.).
Doing His Will Builds the Kingdom
For us to do the will of God sincerely from the heart is our first
priority as kingdom builders. God has saved us not so that our lives
might be distorted into "religious fanaticism," but so that
our lives might be healed, so that we might become lovers of our Creator
and of one another, so that we might express that love in the society
of the local church and toward the world around us that needs that love.
We do not, therefore, forsake the world and become ascetics. Nor is
our holiness limited to special "spiritual" deeds. Everyday
life is the sphere of many of our most sacred actions. Our homes, businesses,
and neighborhoods are the places where we are called to manifest the
glory of our God (cf. 1 Cr. 10:31).
Evangelism is a main concern of the church. We are called to evangelize
the world and lead all to the knowledge of Christ (Mt. 28:18-20; Mr.
16:15-16; Lk. 24:48-49; etc.). It is a mistake, however, to think of
our evangelistic responsibilities as something separate from the rest
of our Christian lives, to think that evangelism is something that is
done only at evangelistic meetings or through special programs. Before
special programs and meetings, underlying every aspect of our preaching
the Gospel to the non-Christian world is a more important issue -- we
ourselves must do the will of God.
This is what our Lord taught us in John 15: "I am the true vine,
and My Father is the vinedresser. . . . I am the vine, you are the branches;
he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from
Me you can do nothing. . . . If you abide in Me, and My words abide
in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. By this
is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be
My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you;
abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My
love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His
love." (15:1, 5, 7-10).
We bear fruit only when we abide in Him by keeping His commandments,
which is the way of abiding in His love. Obedience to Christ, then,
is our priority in seeking the kingdom of God. We are not called upon
to do outstanding deeds of spiritual courage or power, but to obey Christ
sincerely in our everyday lives. The spiritual power of that obedience
will be used by God to influence those around us to seek Him: "Now
on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out,
saying, 'If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who
believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being shall
flow rivers of living water.' But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom
those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet
given, because Jesus was not yet glorified." (Jn. 7:37-39). But
now Jesus has been glorified and has given us the Spirit!
When the people of God are seriously obedient to the commandments of
God and walk in the way of love, they exert the influence of holiness
and righteousness on the world around them. Also, as our Lord promised,
God hears their prayers and the kingdom grows. Seeking the kingdom of
God, then, is both a glorious calling and a wonderfully simple path,
for what should be "difficult" about loving God and our neighbor?
The paradoxical problem is that we are so sinful that what should be
most natural and easy is extremely hard. Therefore we need to pray that
His will be done. But we should pray with confidence that God delights
in such a prayer and will hear us for the sake of His Son.
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