I’ve been pondering what follows here for some time. One phrase from what is most often called “the Lord’s prayer”- in particular where part of Jesus’ response to His disciples question “Lord, teach us to pray” includes “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”.
Seems to me no matter how authentic our salvation/saving faith/personal relationship to Jesus is, no matter how closely we fulfill the commandments of God, no matter how good our heart attitudes, I doubt Jesus could have meant that our prayers of faith will in themselves bring THE EXACT WILL OF GOD to our earth.
Sound erroneous to you?
Consider that prayer never changes God. He is perfect, utterly holy and unchanging.
He indeed DOES and SHALL “work all things out according to the counsel of HIS will”… and yet does anyone with a brain and honest knowledge of either world or church history believe His perfect, absolute will (which is the ONLY way things happen in heaven before His throne) is what we have a historical record of on earth?
To ask, plead, trust and follow Him individually and corporately in praying “Your will be done on earth AS IT IS in heaven” does not mean that what we have seen nor shall see humans do on earth is precisely as things are done in heaven where all is done literally without sin, in utter perfection.
I don’t know who the wise wag was who first came up with the concept that “prayer doesn’t change God… prayer changes us” -but she or he was dead-on correct in my view.
So what is Jesus getting at in this part of the prayer He taught and teaches us to pray?
Perhaps at core He is saying (let me personalize this for emphasis) “Glenn- I want to you talk to the Father in faith, ask Him to meet your real and perceived needs and the genuine and perceived needs of others. I want you to bless them, friend, enemy, stranger in prayer. I want YOUR HEART TO DESIRE TO DO THE FATHER’S REVEALED WILL BEST YOU KNOW HOW IN ACCORD WITH HIS WORD, because that’s as close as you can live out life with Father, Myself and Spirit in this world as you will in heaven eternally.”
When we seek to love in action rather than concept, when our prayers “walk”, our words to God are far more than mere theory, we are agents of His grace, His will on earth. Prayers like this not only change our thinking about God, ourselves and others, they help us get in tune with doing what we say we do (and ought to) believe.
There is no angel, no other creature (seems there are several) before God’s throne in heaven that do not with absolute perfection and precision perform His absolute will! Not so on earth, let’s face it.
Now, for those who wish to argue further, is it the will of God for anyone, anywhere at any time to -murder-? No. Do people murder people on earth? Why would God break His Own commandment by allowing such to happen when so many of us pray in faith for protection of people who then are murdered? No sin (what God calls sin in His Book, not as the church nor you or I may define the term) is the will of God on earth. Not. Ever. There is zero sin in heaven.
Please, no offense desired on my part, but being very blunt here, I believe some of my friends in hardcore reformed and some in hardcore charismatic/pentecostal circles do theological back flips to answer and explain such a question, but in light of Jesus’ prayer, IS GOD’S TRUE WILL ACCOMPLISHED by every prayed-over act of humankind? Please! This is not the case.
I conclude that His teaching prayer is about our own lives lining up with His character, His Word, His desires, His love, our own attitudes checked, our own motives, goals and desires being a matter of our will getting in sync with our Father’s will to the best of our ability to comprehend it in accord with His Word, The Bible. It’s about making wise, biblical choices and in love, obedient surrender to the only God there is.
Prayer is in part, about agreement, covenant between each of us and the Lord. Will His will ULTIMATELY BE DONE ON EARTH as it is in heaven? Of course!! Meanwhile…
We live in the meanwhile… and though we may mean well and pray well, plenty of us go off the rails, some mentally, some emotionally, some with guns, knives and other devices. Anger, rage, fear and anxiety plague plenty of people with true, saving faith in Jesus Christ. They (we) do not perfectly do His will on earth and must in humility, confess and repent when appropriate.
Neither confession nor repentance is needed in heaven because there is neither mistake nor sin happening there.
On earth, we are no more immune to temptation (note His inclusion of this in the Lord’s Prayer) than non-believers.
To tell me His will shall be done on earth simply on the basis of my or our combined prayers as though the church can somehow get God to get everyone on the planet (as it is in heaven) lovingly following Him in all our thoughts, words and deeds… has never nor will ever happen.
In His good time the kingdoms of this world will fall to the kingdom of God and Christ the King -but we presently live in the “not yet”.
God wants us to WANT His will, done even as it is in heaven, to pray for and live out His will of love, all the fruits of the Holy Spirit (see Gal. chapter 5) and for His gracious love to be exhibited through His people- the church- in this broken world.
Do we? Well… let’s be honest… -sometimes- we do. Sometimes. Thank God for His grace!!!
Praying this prayer is massively important in all it’s aspects, but I’d say this portion is often somewhat overlooked. We want God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. He wants us to act accordingly. God help us to take this seriously.
Things to consider! As always, thanks for stopping by.