We’ve been considering the Lord’s prayer in anticipation of signing the Lord’s prayer on Sunday at our outdoor service at the Wellfield at 10:00 AM. If you haven’t seen the signing video to help you learn the Lord’s prayer you can click on this link: https://vimeo.com/461551775
Today we are looking at the phrase in the Lord’s prayer, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This is a petition on our part that God would have God’s way. We are asking for God to make things happen accord to God’s desires or purpose. I think we get a clue as to what Jesus means by this particular petition in the advice Jesus offers just before he teaches the Lord’s prayer. He says to his disciples,
“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Matt. 6: 7-8.
It seems to me this actually pretty hard to do. Most of us when we go to pray have a laundry list of requests to make to God. We ask for things. We ask for lots of things. Jesus tells us we don’t really need to ask for that laundry list of things. Our Father in heaven, who loves us, already knows what we need, and will give us good things just as any good human father would do. In another bit of Matthew’s gospel, Jesus asks a couple of interesting questions to get us to think about asking in prayer. He says,
Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him! Matt 7: 9-11.
The trick then is to trust that God does indeed love us and will give us what we need just as any other good father would do. The other bit to remember, however, is that this prayer is said to “our” father and not just “my” father. And when we ask for God’s will to be done, we ask not just for ourselves but for God’s will to be done on the whole earth and for all the creatures on the earth just as God’s will is done in heaven. It’s a big ask, and this petition goes way beyond what each of us individually needs on any particular day. We’re looking for God’s will to be done for people who caught in the crossfire of civil war, for people who suffer under unjust leadership in their country, for people who haven’t enough to eat or a safe place to sleep, or who are trapped in slavery or in abusive relationships. We are asking for God’s will to be done on the earth for everyone in need… including us. It’s a big ask, but I believe God hears and is up to the challenge.
My prayer today as I write this, is that I will remember the next time I go to God with my laundry list of requests to include prayers for those who are beyond my sight and personal daily experience… that I will remember to pray for God’s will to be done and mean it!
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