Matthew 6 v 9 – 10b After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven
Matthew 6 v 9 – 10a After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
It has been said that “Prayer is a mighty instrument – not for getting man’s will done in heaven, but for getting God’s will done on earth!”
As we learn how to pray, and the Disciple’s Prayer is opened up to us, the Lord Jesus Christ gives us this superb pattern on which to base all of our prayers.
We are taught to pray OUR FATHER WHICH ART IN HEAVEN. If He is our Father in heaven, by grace and through faith in Him through the Lord Jesus Christ then should we not DO HIS WILL? Yes we should because disobedience characterises God’s enemies!
Since we are taught to pray HALLOWED BE THY NAME does not a genuine desire and concern for His glory oblige us to make conformity to HIS WILL our supreme request? Nothing dishonours God more than self-will and defiance!
Since we are instructed to pray THY KINGDOM COME should we not, as citizens by grace of that kingdom seek to be in full subjection to the Kingdom’s laws and ordinances? Surely we should, for it is only alienated rebels against HIS WILL who despise the rule of the sovereign.
This section of the prayer has many deep implications for us this morning. We need to know what the will of God is. Usually we want to know that because we are really interested in God’s will for us in particular. So we must first of all examine the subject, ‘What is the will of God?’
Then because the Lord Jesus adds two arenas where the will of God should be done, in heaven and on earth, we need also to look at what goes on in heaven and earth.
Thy Will be done on earth as it is in heaven
is called the third Petition of the prayer.
However it is more of an AFFIRMATION than a request. We have seen how we DESIRED to see God’s Name being hallowed, and desired to see His Kingdom brought into a fuller realisation.
There is a sense that we DESIRE His will to be done – but because of the nature of God’s will, which is sovereign and perfect it is less of a matter for wanting something to happen that is not happening – because God’s will IS BEING DONE – right now and our praying will make no difference to the exercise of God’s will – in one sense.
That is why we can say that it is an AFFIRMATION – an acknowledgement.
There are three aspects to this AFFIRMATION.
1. The INEVITABILITY of God’s will being done.
We are really stating when we say Thy will be done – “O Lord God almighty – Thy will is invincible! All that Thou hast said will come to pass. All that Thou hast promised will be fulfilled. Thy power and might will bring all thy desires to fruition.”
2. The ACCEPTABILITY of God’s will being done.
We as creatures of God’s perfect creation can be brought to accept totally the will of our maker. We can come to a point of acceptance that God’s will is perfect. We accept that His perfect will has brought us who believe to salvation by grace through faith. This salvation is the work of a divine genius. It reflects all of the wisdom and love of a mighty God and it has the capacity to overwhelm our imagination, so profound is the Gospel of redemption. The miracle of being a Christian makes God’s will acceptable to us.
3. The INDISPENSABILITY of God’s will being done.
There is no other way that we could be saved except by the divine will of God working essentially for our salvation. Think of it – we were so dead in our sins and rebellion that no amount of persuasion could have led one of us to love and to serve the Lord in an acceptable way. It took the power of God’s will to move powerfully, Himself, by His Holy Spirit in regeneration, to make any one of us alive to God – and converted.
We can prove this like this. There are those who have been sitting under the sound of the Gospel for years, even decades. They have heard preaching and different preachers bringing the sound of the good news to their ears. There have been times when they have been almost persuaded to get on their knees and confess their sins and believe in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ and all that it means. Friends have prayed for them and many have sought to persuade them to believe – yet still they do not believe – and there are some of you here this morning who fall into this category! Why do you not believe? You do not believe because persuasion alone, by a human preacher is not enough to save your never dying soul. Nothing else but the indispensable will of Almighty God can set you on the pathway to eternal life. Certainly preachers and other believers have the privilege of being instruments – but unless everything that we say is in line with the holy purposes enshrined in God’s will, then we shall accomplish nothing.
But before there are some who can now run away with the idea that maybe it isn’t God’s will that I am saved, maybe I never will be saved because God has not willed it – then hold on – that can never be an excuse. You have no right to know more than God and assume that you know His will! You do not! He calls “all men and women everywhere to repent.” He calls all men to seek the Lord while He may be found and call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked man forsake His way – do it God says – forsake your sins – turn from them – that is my will for you – and do it now! Don’t sit around waiting for some sudden realisation that it is God’s will that now it is your turn to be saved! But you must be aware that the will of God is indispensable for your salvation. Only God’s will can bring your salvation to pass.
But let us now consider
1. WHAT IS THE WILL OF GOD.
Thy Will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
1. The Words of the Text.
The word for WILL here is THELEMA. The will is the faculty by which we decide to do anything. It is the determination to effect one’s wishes. The Divine will is the same – but it has two aspects.
1. God’s secret will
2. God’s revealed will.
1. God’s secret will
is sometimes called His decretive will – he has made decrees which are the rule of His own actions. These are seen in creation –
Revelation 4 v 11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
They are seen in the way that God’s will is unquestionable by His creatures –
Daniel 4 v 35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?
And God’s secret will underlies His sovereign work of grace in salvation –
Romans 9 v 15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
The secret will of God is never known until He chooses to reveal it – and there are still many mysteries in life and the history of the universe that belong to the unknowable secret will of God. When we pray THEY WILL BE DONE in this prayer we are NOT praying that God’s secret will may be done – we cannot do what we do not know.
“Neither men nor angels have the key to unlock the secret will of God locked up in His own being” says Thomas Watson.
2. God’s revealed will.
God’s revealed will is the rule for OUR actions as creatures. God’s will is made known to us in the scriptures. He makes it absolutely plain what He requires of us and what will please Him when we do His will. There is a scripture that distinguishes between these two aspects of God’s will – it is in Deuteronomy 29 v 29
The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.
Notice that last phrase – the purpose of the revealed will of God is that we may DO THAT WILL – all the words of this law!
God’s revealed will is to bless mankind through His son the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ the perfect man, delighted to do the will of His Father. He came to die for His people and in saving His own dear people He brought eternal blessing upon them.
God’s revealed will is called good –
Romans 12 v 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
The will of God is the only power that will change my heart to be obedient to God’s will – I need to have my heart to be subdued to God’s will – and so do you my friend! This is the meaning of my words when I pray them Thy Will be done.
God has a will for us – His revealed will – it is all here in His word.
God wants us to KNOW his will. He has not made it difficult to know but He expects us to find out what His will is. Bible reading, Bible study, Bible Teaching and learning and meditating on the Bible are not chores that the Believing Christian has to do to find acceptability with God (neither with other believers.) No – attention to the Bible is the way to find out God’s will! Paul prayed for the Christians at Colossae in Colossians 1 v 9
For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
How did Paul know that this was important for believers? Because there was a time at the very beginning of Paul’s Christian experience that God told him so, through Ananias who came to lay hands on him in Damascus –
Acts 22 v 14 And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth.
God wants us to DO HIS WILL. There are many scriptures that speak of God’s will for us – I have picked out a few from the scores that there are.
1. A verse that tells us that God has a will for us –
Ephesians 6 v 5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; 6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; 7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:
God is our master – we are His servants. Servants should know what the master requires – but not many servants do the will of their masters from the heart – but servants who love their masters, whose masters treat them as sons and daughters, they are able to do His will from the heart with love!
2. It is God’s will that we are thankful –
1 Thessalonians 5 v 18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
3. It is God’s will that we become more like Christ, that we are sanctified. Paul puts it specifically in one area – in the relationships realm –
1 Thessalonians 4 v 3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:
4. It is God’s will that we should be diligent in doing well
1 Peter 2 v 15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:
5. There is a wonderful doxology in Hebrews 13 that speaks of the perfecting of the Christian as he or she does God’s will –
Hebrews 13 v 20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
So the phrase THY WILL BE DONE referring to GOD’S WILL, THELEMA, is right at the heart of this section of the prayer.
But there are other words here in the text that the Lord Jesus has given us.
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
The Greek construction is different in its order of words. It is more like this -
‘Let be done, let it come to pass – Thy will – as in heaven – so also upon earth.’
It is good that we can see the variation here because it puts the importance of the will of God being done in heaven as an example of how things should be done on earth. This is the centre of the petition. It is an appeal that God’s will might be done not only in heaven but also on earth.
So let us look at what is going on in heaven!
2. WHAT IS GOING ON IN HEAVEN?
Arthur Pink says “Heaven is what it is because the will of God is done by all who live there!”
In other words God’s will is being done in heaven every second, every minute, every hour, 24 hours a day, every day – and will continue to do so for all eternity.
The scriptures tell us that there are angels standing ready to do whatever God tells them to do at a moments notice! We read from Psalm 103 earlier –
20 Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.
There is no reluctance to do God’s will in heaven. There are no sullen angels who only fitfully obey – there is no tardiness amongst them – no partiality and no hypocrisy in the obedience of the servants of God in heaven. They all are ready to instantly obey when they hear commands from the throne of heaven. Revelation 5 v 8 – 14
8 And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. 9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; 10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. 11 And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; 12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. 13 And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. 14 And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.
And Revelation 7 v 13 – 15
13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.
The angels and those already there enjoying heaven are serving God day and night. God’s will is performed gladly and joyfully – promptly and perfectly and with great delight on the part His creatures.
Oh my friends – how different this is to the earth! There is very little instant obedience here on earth. Perhaps there is a glimmer in circles and organisations where instant obedience is trained for – such as the armed services and other uniformed groups. And perhaps in some homes where there is loving discipline on the part of caring parents – with reciprocal delighted obedience from equally loving children.
But the truth is that most of the time on earth there is reluctant obedience, partial compliance and more often than not utter disobedience to God’s sovereign will!
So the standard by which we should measure our attempts at doing God’s will on earth is nothing less than the conduct of the saints and angels in heaven!
Sometimes we say that a particular experience is a FORETASTE OF HEAVEN. What do we mean? Do we mean an easy time? Do we mean a beautiful sunset? Do we mean a gooey satisfied feeling with all of our senses perfectly settled and happy?
This comes so far short of any real foretaste of heaven my friends. Any foretaste we might receive of heaven, while here on earth, is determined largely by the degree that we perform the Divine will of God! Heaven on earth is really only a reality when God’s perfect will is being done all of the time by all of creation! It seems impossible doesn’t it? What will it take to achieve this state of affairs?
What must happen is that God’s will be done perfectly, not only by the angels but by all the saints – all those who have been born again by the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ. But even that seems impossible – simply because we who believe still are in these bodies, that are so prone to sin.
Therefore we have to pray this prayer – O Lord – I desire that what is going on in heaven – namely that thy will is perfectly done at all times, become the state of affairs down here on earth – and Lord – please answer my prayer by beginning with me?
Oh may I be a person that obeys thy will at all times? I desire to be obedient! I want to glorify Thee Lord by being thine obedient servant!
Thy will be done – let thy will be done – here where I am just as it is in heaven! This is how we should pray. But do we? Honestly?
Sometimes we pray expecting God to change the way that He is running the universe. Some Christians treat God as a genie in a bottle who will grant them their every wish when the right prayer rubbing of the glass goes on!
Some people when they pray THY WILL BE DONE are praying through gritted teeth – not liking God’s will at all!
But my friends it is not possible to pray for God’s will while resenting God’s will. That is trying to retain the mastery and captaincy of our souls and be the rulers of our futures when we do that.
But the Christian knows God as Father and has a relationship with Him as Father. The Christian knows what God’s heart is like – it is righteous, holy, gracious and kind – and that his will works all things together for good to those who love Him and are the called according to His purpose. Yes, familiar words from Romans 8. But how often do we believe them?
As in heaven where God’s will is done perfectly – so also on earth? Can we do God’s will as the angels do in heaven?
What a question this is! What a challenge it is! We who are on our way to heaven had better begin to get into the practice of the life that that will occupy us for all eternity – namely doing God’s will perfectly in heaven! That is where believers are going! We are going to inherit the kingdom prepared for us.
Is it possible to come anywhere close to doing what they are doing in heaven? Yes it is – but -
1. We must realise that we have no innate power to do God’s will.
2. Whereas we cannot equal the angels in doing God’s will – yet we must try to imitate them.
We learn by imitation gradually getting more and more competent. So it is with doing the will of God.
Thomas Watson says, “Though we cannot do His will LEGALLY we can do it EVANGELICALLY.”
By this he means that we become sad when we can’t do it as well as we might, and that what God requires of us, sinful creatures, is that we at least DESIRE to do God’s revealed will. David said in Psalm 119 v 5
O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!
We must make a supreme effort to know God’s will and to do it. I remember building a patio once with the help of a friend and the occasional help of my sons, at the time they were in their early teens. Plastic bags of earth had to be moved from the garden to the road and they were very heavy. Some were bigger than others. The boys were eager to help – but there were some bags that they couldn’t lift – yet they tried – they really tried. It was my will that they move the bags – but they were not able even though they tried and did their best. As a father I was able to accept their efforts as if they had done it! They did their best. This is the same as doing God’s will evangelically. God accepts us even though our efforts are not to His satisfaction.
3. God’s commands are clear – He is respected when we obey the clear and revealed will of God. There are obvious aspects of God’s will for us – the duties that present themselves to us – they are God’s will – we do not need special orders or commissions for certain dimensions of His will. He calls for our worship – we are given clear directions for worship in the scripture – so we must comply and do His will without altering them. He requires sincere attempts at doing His will.
So how is it with us and our obedience? Is God’s will done in our lives?
Perhaps we object – we are not angels – this is true – but there was a man who was able to obey God’s will as the angels – the man the Lord Jesus Christ. He was tempted in all points as we are – yet without sin. He is our pattern – our blessed saviour. He knew His Father’s will and never questioned it – even when it came to the Garden of Gethsemane he was aligning His human will to the will of His father –
Mark 14 v 36 And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.
There was no other way for Him to purchase our salvation – but by His obedience – the way of the cross and sacrifice! So it is that our Sovereign Lord can call us His family – when we desire to be like Him –
Mark 3 v 34 And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 35 For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.
We must pray “Thy will be done “ precisely because it is NOT being done in earth as in heaven. And when we pray it and mean it we are praying that we will be ready to do that will of God with all of our might. The question is – are we ready to do God’s will? Or are we content merely to SAY the words without proving it by our lives? May we all have the courage to be doers of the sovereign will of Almighty God every day of our lives and thereby glorify God and get into practice for an eternity of willing service towards God in heaven, characterised by perfect obedience –
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.