Phil Cox

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Thy will be done

6th April 2008

The Lord's Prayer starts:

Matthew 6v9-10
"...Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

It's easy to give mental assent to the idea of praying for God's will to be done. He is the Creator of all things, and so has a right to do what He wants. He is all-knowing, and so knows what's best. And He loves us. So it would seem to be an obvious good thing to pray for. And it is. But praying "Thy will be done" is not always as easy as we might think.

How did Abraham feel about God's will being done when this happened?

Genesis 22v1-2
... God tested Abraham. He said to him, "Abraham!"
"Here I am," he replied.
Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about."

It's much easier to pray "Thy will be done, except when it affects my family, so long as it conforms to my idea of right and wrong, so long as it fits into my theology". Abraham obeyed God. Abraham was willing for God's will to be done. But it wasn't easy.

And Jesus Himself, who taught us this prayer, found Himself in the garden of Gethsemane, praying:

Matthew 26v39
"My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."

He knew that His Father - our Father - wanted Him to be tortured and killed. But He prayed "not as I will, but as you will". For Jesus, "They will be done" meant submission to pain and death. But He prayed it - and He meant it. And He suffered for it.

If we are Christians, we know (I hope) that we were chosen by God. More than that, we were predestined to be Christians:

Romans 8v28-29
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.

It's great to know that God predestined us to be His. It's great to know that God works in all things for our good. So why is our life sometimes so very painful? I can't answer that completely, but here's part of the answer:

God predestined us - but He didn't predestine us to a pain-free life, He predestined us to be conformed to the likeness of His Son.

Our Father's will for us is for us to become like Jesus. And He's got a lot of work to do to achieve that. And we have a lot of changes to make: many changes of attitude, action, speech, thought and priorities to undergo, much sin to repent of, and much to learn. And often, we learn best through the difficult experiences of life.

Is God's will good for us? Of course! Is it comfortable? Sometimes, and sometimes not. But if we're serious about our relationship with Him, we must embrace His will:

John 14v21-24
[Jesus said] "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."
Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, "But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?"
Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

Do you want Jesus to reveal more of Himself to you? Then do what He says.

Why doesn't Jesus reveal Himself to everybody? Because not everybody wants to obey Him.

Do you want intimate relationship with both the Father and the Son? For them to "Come to you and make their home with you"? Then obey God.

The degree to which you submit your life to Him will be the degree to which you know His blessing.

"Thy will be done" is first and foremost an expression of submission to God. It's an acknowledgement that His will is best, and that we need His help in order to obey it. But when we obey it, we find Him closer to us than ever.