Matthew 6:10 (ESV) …your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
I had another couple of great walks this week – one in the Rocky River Reservation and another at a place fast becoming one of my favorite places to hike, Cuyahoga Valley National Park. I particularly like the Old Carriage Trail hike between Station Road and Red Lock, and the trail from Boston Mills to Peninsula. I am taking advantage of the warm weather knowing that it won’t last as this is Ohio and you never know what the weather will be like from day to day.
As I took my walks, I was thinking of a question I had been pondering for a while. One of the four main prayer requests Donna and I had back when she was first diagnosed with cancer was that God’s will would be done in whatever happened and that we would be comfortable with it. That request framed any other requests we may have had. Our number one desire was for God’s will to be done. We thought he would allow Donna to live a couple more years, but his plans were different, and Donna only lived eight months before leaving for her eternal home.
That got me thinking about the Disciple’s prayer. We often talk of it as the Lord’s Prayer but in fact it was a prayer Christ taught his disciples, so a better name is the Disciple’s prayer (the Lord’s Prayer is found in John 17). Most of us can quote this prayer by heart and I thought about how often we do that without really thinking about what is being said. Christ starts out with a request for God’s name, his character, to be holy and lifted up “hallowed by thy name”. He then moves to God’s eternal plan, “thy kingdom come,” and then to the request we are pondering today, “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
We often pray this with the view for God’s will to be done, but what really caught my attention was the phrase “as it is in heaven.” That got me thinking about how God’s will is done in heaven, as that is the way we want it done on earth. As I worked through this in my mind, I came up with five aspects or ways God’s will is done in heaven.
One, no one in heaven questions who is in charge and whose will should be done. We often question this idea especially when things aren’t going our way. We may think that Satan is pulling one off and that somehow God is losing control of things, but in heaven no one questions who’s in charge! God is sovereign, and by definition there can be only one sovereign being in the universe. So, the aspect we need to think about here when we face trials and tribulations is that God is in charge.
Two, no one in heaven debates God’s purposes and will. There are no polls in heaven to determine how the universe will react when God’s makes a decision. There is no pushback on God’s commands or questioning the wisdom of God in any way. The only place in the universe where God’s purposes are questioned is here on earth. When God speaks in heaven there is a universal understanding that whatever he says, and commands is to be obeyed and there are no angelic beings or redeemed humanity second guessing what God is doing. No one is discussing God’s will around the heavenly water cooler!
Three, God is not seeking, nor does he need, any assistance in determining his will. God is not in the business of asking focus groups what should be done, and he does not entertain any being in the universe given him advice on what his actions should be. God needs no help. His ways are not our ways, and his thoughts are not our thoughts. His decisions are made without the help of the latest polling data!
Fourthly, God’s will is done immediately – there is no delay in carrying out his divine commands. No one is taking their time in doing what God says or moving slow in performing whatever he tells them to do. We do know that sometimes angels are delayed due to the opposition of Satan (remember Daniel in Daniel 9), but when God speaks all of the heavenly order moves to execute his commands immediately and without question.
Fifthly, God’s will is done joyfully. No one in heaven is grumbling about doing what God commands. There are no sighs when God commands or rolling of eyes. The angelic hosts are eager to fulfill God’s command without delay and with joy, as that is the purpose of their creation.
So, as I look at these five aspects of how God’s will is done in heaven, I can’t help but think there are lessons for us. When we pray for God’s will to be done, do we then question God especially when he doesn’t seem to be doing things the way we want them done? Do we push back on God’s purposes when his will and ours is different or do we accept that whatever he is doing is the best course of action? Do we try to inform God in order to help him come up with a better plan, or do we humbly acknowledge that his plans are best? Do we drag our heels when God is leading us to do something we don’t want to do? And finally, do we only do God’s will under duress, or do we joyfully accept his will in our lives even when we don’t understand why, or we do not like what is happening?
So next time you pray, “thy will be done” think about these things and ask yourself, “Do I really want God’s will?”
Or do you want it your way?