This is a guest blog from Jason Tovey, the Shepherding Pastor at Southbridge Fellowship.
What does it mean to pray, Your will be done? Does that have to be prayed since God is sovereign? Isn’t His will always accomplished? What are the implications for each of us for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven?
It means: God do what you want and start in my life. Over and over, we see this demonstrated in Jesus. (John 4:34; John 5:30; John 6:38; John 7:17 and John 8:29)
Most notably, we see Jesus in great agony praying this to His Father. In Matthew 26:39-42 Jesus is praying in the garden, as He knows the plan of His sacrifice is approaching. Jesus says, “Not as I will, but your will be done.” He passionately reveals how, in His humanity, He voluntarily surrendered His will to the will of the Father in all things. There is no conflict then between His divine nature and His desires. Jesus did the will of the Father, for God’s glory and for the sake of sin filled people.
Christ demonstrates what it looks like to live out Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
If God is God, doesn’t His will always happen? It’s hard to understand but we don’t have to let our inability to grasp the Lord’s unique character and His expressed commands stop us from obedience. None of this is paradoxical to Him. But back to the question. Isn’t God’s will always happening? Yes and No.
To understand this, we need to look at the aspect’s of God’s will.
1. God’s Redemptive Plan
When it comes to God’s redemptive plan for all of history, it’s going to happen. Nothing is stopping that. In Isaiah 14, the Lord Almighty says, “Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen.” This is the plan determined for the whole world; this is the hand stretched out over all nations.
We see God’s redemptive plan in place in the New Testament as well. In Ephesians 1:3-10, His plans and purposes for the redemption of people cannot be thwarted or stopped.
2. God’s Desire and Passions
In Luke 13:34, we see the passion of Christ for His people but they are unwilling to receive Him. In 2 Peter 3:9, we read that God doesn’t desire for people to perish but people do. So, we know there is opposition to His expressed desire and passion for people, in the sense that not everyone lives as Kingdom inhabitants.
3. God’s Decrees and Commands
Several sources say there are 613 commands in the Old Testament Law and then 1,050 commands in the New Testament. Some say because of repetition you could narrow those down to 684. Both Old Testament and New Testament commands cover every phase of life in relationship to God and others. You might say, “Well those commands in the Old Testament are fulfilled in Christ, plus I just want to follow Jesus”. Well, Jesus gave at least 50 commands.
God’s revealed will is violated every time one of His commands is disobeyed.
We pray for God’s will to be done on earth because it is not being done on earth in every way at all times. If we ask, “Isn’t God’s will always done?” Yes and no. Yes, in that His redemptive plan is always moving forward according to His Sovereignty. But no because people reject His expressed desires and commands. God’s will being done on earth through you is actually best for you and those around you, but do you resist?
It’s a problem to pray rightly and live wrongly. Do our prayers seem consistent with His will and the way we live our lives?
We may all remember asking God to let us do well on a test even though we didn’t study for it. That’s not prayer. That’s wishing. The purpose of prayer is not to make God do my will but to bring my will into line with His.
- Praying for God for money, but you don’t live generously.
- Praying for a great marriage, but you refuse to serve your spouse.
- Praying for Christian accountability, but you aren’t honest with others.
- Praying for a godly spouse, but you won’t live in sexual purity.
- Praying for family members to be saved, but you wont share how Jesus changed your life.
It would be hypocritical to pray for the Father’s will to be done, at the same time living in opposition to His expressed will.
What does it mean to pray for God’s will to be done here as it is in heaven? We must first ask: what is it like in heaven? Psalm 103:20 says that God’s angels obey His commands. Heaven is heaven because all who dwell there do the will of God. God’s will accomplished through His creation is the definition of heaven. Heaven is on earth when His redemptive plan is moving forward, His desires are achieved, and when we abide by His expressed, wise commands through obedience. So, we pray Your will be done and start in and with me.
Think about the order of this prayer again.
Our Heavenly, accessible, approachable perfect loving Father,
You are holy and completely set apart from us,
and we long to make that known through our lives.
You are our King. Bring Your Kingdom here through salvation and submission,
through sanctification and through Your speedy return.
Make Your will happen here as it does there, and start in my heart.
I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart – Psalm 40:8