“Thy Will Be Done on Earth as it is in Heaven”

The fourth in a Sermon Series on the Lord’s Prayer.

February 9th & 10th, 2008


            This evening/morning we continue the series on the Lord’s Prayer.  So far we have heard that the almighty God is merciful; “Our Father”.  He is powerful ;“Who art in heaven”.  He is personal; “Hallowed be thy name”.  We also pray “Thy kingdom come”, so that we might recognize his gracious rule in the world.  A rule which works through his church through grace, his world in power, and that our eternal in heaven would soon come upon us.     In many ways this prayer is praying against ourselves.  Our natural way of praying might be more like this “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be my name, my kingdom come, and my will be done.”   Yet, our ways are not the best ways, and so today we are taught to pray “Thy will be done”. 

            A number of years ago Jim Carey starred in a move titled the Truman show.  In this movie Truman was born into a television studio, and for thirty plus years he was a star on a television show he alone felt was “real life”.   The director of the “Truman Show” created the “ideal” world for Truman or so he believed.   For you see he controlled everything from the people Truman met, his employment, and even his wife.  For Truman, his world  controlled by someone on the outside, turned out to be stifling, and in the end Truman finds his freedom.  To pray “Thy will be done” in this setting, was to ask to live in a fake world, where human potential was limited, and the director (god) was manipulating the show.   Might this be a viewpoint of many who think that God’s will runs the show.  To them, this will is stifling, and a limitation on human freedom.    For from the scriptures we learn that    God’s will is not manipulative, rather it is a good will, one in which we ultimately obtain greatest of all significance. 

            To pray “thy will be done”, means that we are confidently praying to a God who gives us all good things, and that he ultimately frees us from all that would harm us.  In other words, like the Truman show we long for and receive freedom, but unlike the Truman show freedom does come from setting ourselves free from outside constraints.  Rather,   no freedom comes from  in Christ himself. “If the son will set you free you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36)

             One of the first things we learn about God’s will in the New Testament is that it can be understood.   In confirmation class we have been discussing agnosticism.  Agnostics believe that nothing is for sure, and while it may be helpful, there is nothingof which we can be certain.   How different it is with Christianity.  What do we do we know for sure?  What can we understand?   Not everything about God, but we can now this…. That in every NT instant, save one,   it is God’s will to  rescue us or save us.  The other instance found in revelation simply states that it was God’s will to create us.   Ultimately the will of God is about salvation, about rescue, about his love for us.  Jesus says “My Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day (John 6:40).”  We can even be instructed concerning this by the order this petition  is placed in the Lord’s Prayer.   Before we can talk about God’s will, we first have to learn he is our Father, that he has a name to be hallowed, that his is on and  will come on this earth.  So when we are faced with the question, what is God’s will for me? Our first approach is to ask what sort of God we have.  He is our Father.   He has named you in baptism, with the name that is above every name.  His authority is over the earth, and in the church he rules through his word.  His will is expressed clearly day by day.    This will is expressed by our Heavenly Father in his Word.

            God’s will is not foreign to us, but you may be saying yes Pastor “I know that I am saved” but I’m concerned about what God will is for me in my life.  What about a job transfer that I am considering?   What about this guy I am dating, how do I know if he is the one?  What about using our scant funds to buy a house or fix a car?   What about issues concerning retirement?    Does God want me to serve this job or that job?    What is God’s will for me/us in these situations?   As you know   the bible just does not give specific directions concerning these situations.  Remember that God’s known will is that that he saves us and loves us.  In other words we are in his will with any of these choices, as long as none are innately sinful.  Colossians 3:17 says “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord When given two or three or even more choices present themselves to us he blesses us in the process.  Someone once said “We live wanting to know what to do ,but over and over in the New Testament he insists on telling us who we are.”   In other words who we are; saved, rescued children of God and this give us freedom  to serve.  We do not have to look into the unmapped future to find his will,.  We can look to our present especially  where he has placed us.  In other words as believers right now we are in the will of God.  His will is done as we live our lives in the various stations of life.  Be they as parents, parishioners, children, employers, employees, students, and so on.  God’s Word tell us who we are.   It is a burden to be unsure, to wonder if you have done the wrong thing, made the wrong decisions.  Yet, freedom comes from hearing who we are in Christ, and his promises.  Like the one in Romans 8:38-39  For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither heights or depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord”. 

            God’s will can be understood, and God’s will frees us.  God’s will also conquers our will, and Satan’s will.  To pray thy will be done is at the same time to pray that our old nature, the one that doesn’t recognize Christ’s goodness in our lives, is to be conquered.  It is also to pray that Satan’s will, the evil one, the great accuser, will not have his way with us.    Jesus alone has the power to defeat both of these very formable enemies.  Hebrews 2 says “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is the devil.”   The devil is real in this world, and the havoc he can inflict is great. 1 Peter 5:8 says that prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.   Yet he cannot stand against the Son of God who is for us and works through us.  We also know that our old Adam ultimate power has been rendered ineffective or drowned through Christ’s resurrection promise given to us in baptism.  However as Luther  once said “he remains a pretty good swimmer.”   Jesus himself even said about his followers, “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”(Matthew 26:41)  Our wills will let us down, so to pray that “thy will be done” is to pray that God would do what he has promised to do.  That is forgive and strengthen through our rescuing Savior.  He hears this pray, and does not hesitate to grant his gracious forgiving will  to his  repentant followers.    God’s will heals what has been destroyed, strengthens the week, and gives hope to the hopeless. 

God’s will, his rescuing power in Jesus Christ’s supports us in all our troubles.  2 Timothy 1:12 says “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day”.  1 Peter 1:5 says “You through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming  of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”

            We can be confident as a congregation that we understand God’s will.  We can  boldly  that he is gracious to us, and that we are freed to live our lives knowing that his will is behind the various decisions we make in life.  After all he says  “All things for good to those that love him and have been called according to his purpose.” (“Romans 8:28)    He has saved us, made us his own, and given us life.  He also freed us, allows to make decisions through the gifts he has given us.  His will is much better than our will.  O Lord help us to recognize your good and gracious will.  

            This past week in Kirkwood, Missouri a number a number of city counselors went to their evening meeting simply doing their jobs.  Five didn’t return home that night, because of a crazed gunman who went on a killing spree until he himself was shot.  Normal life one moment, and then death and destruction just a few minutes later.    One might ask “where is God’s will in all of this”?  The particulars are impossible to answer, in other words why these people over others, why this night, and so on.    However, as Christians we turn away from what is unknown, to what we know for sure.  We don’t know why these lives were taken and others were not, but we do know that Jesus came to rescue and to save.  We do know that this is precisely why Jesus came to this world.  So that in any and all circumstances, even when our hearts are breaking from grief, we might have hope.   By the grace of God, we do know that in Jesus, death NEVER has the final say.   “Thy will be done”, thanks be to God through Jesus Christ, it is!