On the Lord’s Prayer…Your will be done/on earth as it is in heaven

Volumes more insightful than my own have been written on the Lord’s Prayer, by vaunted academics to ancient saints. In this series, “On The Lord’s Prayer”, I do not claim to greatly advance the discussion, merely to share thoughts. Dive into the discussion — what does the Lord’s Prayer say to you?

We have now reached the critical turn. The religion of Jesus is always double-edged: our demands upon God put demands upon us. I reject the supposition however that the religion of Jesus is quid pro quo, as many believe and others suggest without thinking. If we use the trope of movement it helps us understand the religion of Jesus – somewhere in space and time a meeting place toward which God ever moves; for our part, we are either approaching that place or retreating from it. There is no static position in Jesus’ religion. This is key to understanding the deeper layers of “Your will be done/on earth as it is in heaven”.

Your will be done… it is both request of God and demand upon us. I believe Jesus wants us to not only pray, but to be the answer to prayer. We can see it when Jesus feeds the five thousand. The disciples ask Jesus to send the people away so they may buy food for themselves, and he simply replies, “You give them something to eat.” The disciples complained they did not have the means to feed so many. Let’s not miss the teaching in the midst of the miracle. Jesus fed the 5,000 using his disciples. God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven through his disciples.

When we pray your will be done, it involves our hands in the work, rather than absolving it. Our attitude must be that of eagerness, readiness and humility, so that we can be used by God to ensure his will is done on earth. God can and will intervene miraculously, but he chooses according to his sovereign will to mediate his power through his Church.

Now, I know many who are, and I myself have been, the Christian who wrings his hands, despairing he does not know what the will of God is, or if he has an inkling, whether it is correct. Many claim to know the will of God and to have seen it done, but few truly do. If you are like me and know Evangelicalism, you know it eschews mystery – everything must be black or white, right or wrong, no middle ground. Again, the religion of Jesus is not static, rather it is constant movement.

Involvement in God’s will demands both informed and intuitive, but decisive movement.

  • Again, Jesus’ religion chooses to mediate the will of God through us; if we are not gathering with him, we are scattering (see Matt 12:30). It demands because God will move when we will move, not because he can’t, but because that’s how he chooses to work. We risk a theological cop-out to say God will do it despite our stiff-necked behavior. How do we know for sure?
  • It is informed by the deposit of faith in the Church, the Bible, our relationship with God, godly counsel, and wisdom, just to name a few that should work in harmony with each other.
  • It is also intuitive – the new life we have in Christ has given us a new heart with God’s word written on it. So I say to you, also listen to your gut, because if the Spirit will speak to you, that’s where he will, because you will need courage to follow God, and the gut is where courage lives.
  • Thus it is also decisive. Jesus said it best: “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

The religion of Jesus is metaphorical and visual; we must remember movement if we are to understand how the will God will be accomplished. When you and I pray this part of the Lord’s Prayer, we are doing more than asking God to bring the kingdom to earth, we are, or rather we must also, make a conscious decision that we will partner with him to ensure it is on earth as it is in heaven.

And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”  ~Jesus

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