The Great Sayings in the Gospels
How Shall We Pray?
Thy Will Be Done On Earth as it is in Heaven
9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. KJV
We come today to discuss the last phrase in v.10, “as it is in heaven.” I would remind you that we have already, in this series, looked at the issue of locating the Father in heaven, high and lifted up, seated on His throne, as we pray. We are to hold as holy His name and all that is associated with His name, particularly His authority as Creator over this entire universe but particularly in the affairs of men. We have looked at the issues surrounding His kingdom and what that kingdom is. The last time we were together we looked at the matter of the Will of God, both the Secret Will and the Revealed Will. We concluded that we are absolutely responsible before Him for the doing of His Holy and Revealed Will as found in our Scriptures, the Bible.
Right here in this text we discover some of the issues of the Will of God: daily prayer, confession and forsaking of sin, and the forgiveness of those who have sinned against us.
We know that the entire Revealed Will of God is very carefully laid out in scripture. We say the ‘entire Revealed Will,’ because we believe in the absolute authority and sufficiency of scripture. There is no other source to which we will look to be instructed as concerns the Will of God for our lives.
The 10 commandments give us the overview and summary of the Will of God for us. Then, it is carefully explained by the prophets and apostles so that we know how to apply those principles in our lives.
We are given such exhaustive instruction in the scriptures concerning the Revealed Will of God that there is no other conclusion that we can reach but that it is inexcusable for any child of God to be ignorant concerning God’s Will for his life. There it is in black and white right on the pages of his Bible.
17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
20 But ye have not so learned Christ;
21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:
22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. KJV
It is plain that Paul intended to be understood that the child of God is not to live like the world around him, that he is to put away from himself all of the corruptions associated with his carnal nature and wrap himself completely in the New Man, that regenerated being that was created by God in him for the purpose of producing righteousness and true holiness in his life.
One need not be some kind of Greek scholar or seminary graduate in order to understand this.
Going further, Paul said:
25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. KJV
Do not lie to one another but tell the truth. He particularly emphasized the issue of telling the truth to fellow Christians based in the principle of our join union with Christ.
26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: KJV
Don’t allow anger to cause you to sin and do not hold on to grudges.
Is this too complicated for anyone?
27 Neither give place to the devil. KJV
Do not allow the devil to have any place in your life.
28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. KJV
Do not steal. Work hard. Share with the poor.
29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. KJV
Do not say anything that is corrupt. Guide your speech so that the words are spiritual useful and beneficial to those who hear them.
And on we could go. Paul closed all of his letters with practical admonitions concerning the practice of the Revealed Will of God. One can only be ignorant of those things by being deliberately so, by refusing to read and consider the Word of God.
Of course we know that the problem that mankind in general has with God is that they have refused to obey His Revealed Will. It is their sins that separate them from God and bring His judgment upon their wickedness.
But today and for the purpose of this study, we want to consider the behavior of those who should know the Will of God, those who, in theory, have turned from sin and wickedness to a live of obedience.
Among them we generally find two problems: (1) they do not practice what God has revealed, or (2) when they undertake to do His Will they do it for the wrong reasons, with the wrong motives, and utterly in a different manner than those who live in heaven do His Will. This prayer includes a petition that those who are living on the earth would obey God with the same attitude of mind and heart as those who live in heaven.
We come to notice today that Jesus did not merely state our duty to do the Revealed Will of God but included in the prayer a reminder of how that Will was to be done. We see in this little phrase, “as it is in heaven,” a grammatical structure that we often find in the NT. A word is left out of the phrase and understood to be there, a device we call an ‘ellipsis.’ Whether this was a common manner of speaking or a device to save space on parchment, I have never actually been able to determine, though I favor the latter. The sense of the statement is, “Thy will be done in earth, as it is done in heaven.”
So, the thought moves from the simple idea of God’s will being done to it being done in a particular manner, “as it is done in heaven.”
Let us consider how God’s Will is obeyed in heaven. I want to explore the matter with you by pursuing the answers to a series of questions.
Do you believe that there is any immorality in heaven?
– Maybe in secret?
– Maybe down in the forest where no one can see?
– Do you believe that anyone is walking around wishing that they could commit fornication?
You know the answers here. You know that there is not even the desire to do such things in all of heaven.
Therefore, when we pray ‘on earth as it is in heaven,’ we are stating our purpose and desire to put away even the desires or our carnal nature. We are praying to be enabled to do the will of God with no admixture of impurity in our souls.
Do you think that anyone lies or steals there (heaven)?
– Does anyone tell off-color jokes?
– Does anyone curse or use God’s name in any profane manner?
– Is there any bitterness, anger, or unkindness of any description?
And why not? Is is not because every soul there is fully and completely purposed to do God’s will?
Now, what do you think their attitudes are toward the doing of God’s Will?
– Do they do it because they are afraid that he will smite them down and cast them out if they do not?
– Do they do His will grudgingly, grumbling and complaining under their breath?
– Do you believe that there is any hard feelings at all concerning the doing of His Will?
So, the prayer “as it is in heaven,” is intended to convey a genuine willingness to obey and serve God that has no mixed motives or resentment attached to it at all.
Another set of questions.
If they gather for worship in heaven (and why would they not?) what percentage of the population do you presume attends Bible Classes?
– Prayer Meeting?
– Do you think that any of them resent having to go?
If God ever asks for a volunteer to do something, what response do you thing that He gets?
Regardless of what they might be doing for Him in heaven, what do you suppose is the attitude of their hearts?
I believe that you instinctively know. They serve Him with the whole heart. They are delighted to do His will. But you must know that the longing to have this attitude is not only for those who have died and whose spirits are with God. This is a legitimate longing for the saint of God.
8 I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. KJV
16 I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word. KJV
47 And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved. KJV
So, when we say “thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven,” we are actually saying, “I give myself to do all of your will and I do so with a free heart, joyful and thrilled to the core of my being to have the privilege to do so.”
But this state of mind is rare for us, is it not? There are things inside of us that obstruct such fee and joyful service to God.
– We wake up on Sunday morning and wish that we could sleep in rather than go to church.
– We look outside and see a beautiful day and long to go fishing or to the park or just to tak a drive.
– There are times we pass up opportunities to share the gospel because we had rather discuss sports.
– We look at the Bible there on the table but pick up the remote and turn on the TV.
Our motives for serving God are conflicted and the bottom line is that we end up not doing the will of God when we know that we should.
So, how does one ever come to the place of being able to honestly say these words, “Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven?”
First must come an awareness that there is a problem.
We do not actually do the will of God with the same joy, freedom and willingness as the heaven dwellers, do we?
And, if we do not yet pray this prayer, there is some kind of a disconnect is there not?
Not only is this a problem, it is a serious problem because Jesus obviously intends that we serve this way and we pray to serve this way, but we do not.
We must, then, formulate a real and genuine desire, not a mere wish. “I want to…”
When the desire becomes real, then we pursue it. Until we are actually pursuing it, the thing is only a ‘wish’ a ‘maybe so,’ ‘hope so’ thing.
For example, there is probably more than one person here who would ‘like’ to have a new car. You ‘hope’ to be able to get one some day. But if your car’s engine seizes up on the way home and is un-repairable, you will wake up in the morning with a ‘purpose’ to get another car. What do I want? How much does it cost? Who hast it? What does it take to get it financed? How soon can I sign the papers and drive it home? Suddenly, the ‘want’ has become a WANT and you have a purpose in the thing. Difference in the two scenarios? One gets done and the other does not.
One will never know the reality that Jesus is describing until he/she comes to the place that the wish becomes a burning and driving desire to do God’s will in the proper way.
Once we have formulated the desire, we begin to explore the problem.
“Why are my desire so contrary to what they ought to be?” “What are the obstacles in my way?”
The issue of desires is always a matter of the ‘heart,’ the seat of all of our emotions and longings.
And the answer to our question, at least the general answer, is always a brutal truth. “I love myself more than I love God.”
The manifestations of that answer, how we work out our love for self over our love for God, take ten thousand forms: job, family, money, entertainment, hobbies, laziness, sports, cars, our appearance…….
And now the hard part begins.
First, we must, through prayer and repentance, anchor ourselves in a commitment to love God supremely. “O Lord, I really and honestly do want to love You most of all, above all things.” And that must be absolutely true or else nothing will help us.
Secondly, we must walk ourselves, in pray and before God, through every portion of our lives, honestly asking the question: “Is this affecting my love for You, is that?” “Is this thing keeping me from serving with my whole heart.”
As we find problems (and you will) we must remedy them, asking ourselves the question, “what would a truly godly person do concerning this matter?”
Then, the remedies must be applied and we must keep to the remedies. Only then can our hearts be free to do His will as it is done in heaven.
Make no mistake. This is not a one-time cure. But it is a process by which the heart can be set free from the things that entangle us so as to serve God in the way that Jesus brings before our minds here in this Model Prayer.
Remember the words of Jesus concerning service Him.
24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. KJV
26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. KJV
This thing of doing the will of God in the Way that He would have it done, as it is done in heaven, is a weighty matter. At the same time it seems that He really receives no service done except in this way.
May we all learn how to do what we pray and be faithful to the principles of the Model Prayer given by Jesus.