Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
One of the biggest struggles in Christian life is trying to know the will of God. As in the verse quoted above from the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), we may pray that the Lord’s will shall be done in our lives, but the real request underlying that prayer is this: we want to know God’s will ourselves. We stumble through our lives from one decision and crisis to the next, in each moment wishing we knew God’s will for us so we could act accordingly, but quite often we just go ahead with the actions that are simply easiest or most pleasing, never really sure if those are part of His plan for us. We struggle to live by the age-old question “What would Jesus do?” And even as we try to live in answer to that question, we still stumble a bit in our imagination, and often end up gratifying ourselves simply because we’re unsure how to gratify God.
Is there some way to know the will of God? Is there some criteria by which we can measure our lives so that we might better conform ourselves to God’s will, so that it is indeed done “on earth as it is in heaven”? Yes, there most certainly is a way to know the will of God.
Our first clue about the will of God comes from the Lord’s Prayer itself.
(Robert Young’s Literal Translation)
“Thy reign come:
Thy will come to pass, as in heaven also on the earth.”
(American Standard Version)
“Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth.”
There is a place where God’s perfect will is always enacted, where without question all of creation conforms to the choices God makes: heaven. Our vision of a heaven with pearly gates and streets of gold is actually based on John’s vision of the New Jerusalem that will descend to the new earth at the end times. (Revelation 21:1-21) The New Jerusalem is the physical embodiment of the perfect will of God, and although it is certainly “heavenly” (or “heaven-like”), it is NOT heaven itself. Therefore, let’s get that notion out of our heads right away. Doing away with the sight of gemstone walls and bright lights, let us focus on what makes that place so much like heaven: it is a place of eternal life and of peace with God.
The other thing we know from the Lord’s Prayer is that God’s will is typically NOT enacted here on earth. In fact, as Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans, the will of God is in opposition to the world and its ways.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
The beloved apostle John takes that a step further, reminding us that the will of God not only opposes the world but it also flows out of the love of God.
1 John 2:15-17
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16 For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world.
17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
Love of worldly things, physical desire, greed, and pride: these are in opposition to the Father. But the mind transformed by the Spirit, the person who does the will of God, that person loves the things of heaven, seeks God’s face in all things, and humbles himself before the throne of grace.
Of course, such submission and humility is impossible without faith in God and Christ. We cannot even begin to fathom the will of God without letting go of the world and trusting that God’s will is better than our own.
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Therefore, we see that there is one more step to take before we can discern the will of God: we must increase our faith through studying the Word of God. The will of God becomes clearer and clearer to us as we study His Word, as we see how He has acted through the ages and see how people of faith have conformed themselves to the will of God.
So when we pray “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” let us be mindful of our own role in enacting God’s will. Let us abandon worldly notions of conformity and correctness, and let us “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” (Matthew 6:33) Let us humble ourselves before God, truly becoming subjects in His kingdom, and trusting that His will is far better than ours. Let us study His holy Word to increase our faith in Him, allowing His written Word (“logos”) to become His living and spoken Word (“rhema”) in our lives. And as we, through the power of Christ, cast off the shackles of this world and its ways, let us pray to the Father with our hearts set on bringing His will to this earth just as it exists in heaven.
Our Father in heaven, we seek Your will today. We want to know how we can best serve You, how best we can act and live and love and be. Increase our faith, Lord God, so that we let go of our own willfulness and pride and instead seek Your will, Your way, Your truth, Your life. Let Your will be done here in this world, in this lifetime, even as Your will is and shall forever be done in heaven. Amen.