What do you think? Are you at all like me? I have caught myself saying the Lord’s Prayer every week in worship and, mostly just rattling it off without even thinking about what the phrases mean. I’m sure that God has a sense of humor, because lately I keep “running across” books, podcasts, and sermons on the Lord’s Prayer.
I’ve learned that members of some Christian traditions use this prayer every day and some at least three times per day. I’m thinking that I need to pay closer attention to this.
Just now, I’ve been focusing on where we ask for God’s will to be done “on earth as it is in Heaven.” I have no problem believing that God’s will is being done in Heaven. What does it mean to pray for it to be done here?
It is obvious that God’s will is not being done here. Think of government indifference, mismanagement, and corruption, human trafficking, exploitation of the poor, destruction of the environment, and many other evils. Even more troubling are political and cultural polarization and extremism (“If I disagree with you, I have to hate you”). Okay, I should pray for God’s will to be done there.
How about closer to home? Honestly, I recognize that, quite regularly, my own will is different from God’s will.
But that seems to say that I can know God’s will. Well, actually, I can know it quite a bit because of the Bible. To know God well and to understand what he wants (his will), I need to read it. Through reading and studying the Bible, alone and with others, I can know his direct instructions and principles. Coupled with daily reading and reflecting on his Word, as I wait on God, bringing my concerns to him, he guides me. (Read your Bible every day, people! If you need a suggestion on where to start, start with the Gospel of John or of Mark.)
When I ask for God’s will to be done, I am asking for his will for my life. Do I trust him for the overall trajectory of my life? I admit that there have been rough passages when I grieved the loss of what I had thought was his will. But time and healing and digging deeper into knowing him have shown me that even the hard times fit into his plan for me.
When I ask for God’s will to be done, I may not know at all how it is going to work out. I am asking him to help me to be brave (strong, patient, wise, etc.).
When I ask for God’s will to be done, I may know what needs to happen but I cannot do it by myself. I am asking him to help me (sort of like little kids asking Mom for money so that they can buy her a birthday present – Mom is glad to help).
When I ask for God’s will to be done, I am not asking him to change his will or to bless my will. I am submitting my will to his (think of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane).
Even harder, when I ask for God’s will to be done, I am submitting my attitude. I need his help to really want his will, to not resent what I need to do.
Romans 12:2 says.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you which is good and pleasing and perfect.
I think I am not done with this topic.
Here is a YouTube video by Colin Smith speaking on “How the Lord’s Prayer Can Change You”:
Tony Evans, Tim Keller, John Piper, and Francis Chan also have YouTube videos online. I have a book I’m willing to loan out: The Lord and His Prayer by N.T. Wright. Just ask me. Together in Christ, Ruth Johnson