The Lord’s Prayer – Part 6 “Your Will Be Done” (Matt. 6:9-15)
The Reformed community has a wealth of resources to turn to for guidance in prayer. Typically, the instruction follows the pattern of the Westminster Larger Catechism. Books on prayer take the subject and expound upon the examples and topics we find throughout Scripture. This is not meant to turn our prayers into a simple reading of God’s Word. Prayer is communication with God in our own words. But we can find great help in his Word to provide the categories and the proper theology that supports our prayers.
However, one resource that I used for awhile is Matthew Henry’s A Way to Pray (originally A Method for Prayer). In this book, Henry seems to have scoured every biblical reference and takes the time to turn the verses into prayers. It was meant to provide an example of how to use the Scriptures to inform our prayers. Again, it is not simply meant to be read, but to be used as a support.
I hope you are taking these lessons we are learning about prayer and putting them into practice. You can find the notes to most of these messages on our website if you missed one or would like to refer to them in your prayer time at home. But, however you respond, seek the Lord’s help in being a doer of his word and not a hearer only—especially in regard to prayer.
As we considered this morning, prayer is one of the means by which God accomplishes his will. So our subject this afternoon ought to complement your understanding and application of this morning’s sermon on Revelation 8:1-5.
Let’s quickly review what we have covered the last few weeks. We have learned from the preface to the Lord’s Prayer (“Our Father in heaven”) that we come to God in prayer acknowledging his heavenly majesty and power, but also having experienced his fatherly kindness. We often speak of God as both transcendent and imminent. He is holy, but he has made a way for us to be in his presence through His Son.
When we say “Hallowed be Your name” in the second petition we enter into a season of adoration. We declare and appreciate God’s attributes. This involves the positive giving of our praise to God as well as the desire to remove anything that detracts from the glory of God.
Last week we considered the second petition: “Your kingdom come.” If we desire God’s kingdom, we imply that there is another kingdom that we want to see destroyed. We long to see the end of the kingdom of evil in this world. We know that will only take place when Christ returns, but we can pray to that end and anticipate that day with an ever increasing hope. In the meantime, we want to see God’s kingdom advance throughout the world. And we also pray that his kingdom would have a healthy representation in the Church.
This afternoon we come to the third petition regarding the will of God.
Read Matt. 6:9-15
WLC 192. WHAT DO WE PRAY FOR IN THE THIRD PETITION?
In the third petition, (which is, Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven,) acknowledging, that by nature we and all men are not only utterly unable and unwilling to know and do the will of God, but prone to rebel against his word, to repine and murmur against his providence, and wholly inclined to do the will of the flesh, and of the devil: we pray that God would by his Spirit take away from ourselves and others all blindness, weakness, indisposedness, and perverseness of heart; and by his grace make us able and willing to know, do, and submit to his will in all things, with the like humility, cheerfulness, faithfulness, diligence, zeal, sincerity, and constancy, as the angels do in heaven.
MAN’S INABILITY AND REBELLION
As we have seen in the previous questions and answers, the author’s begin by speaking of our state apart from God’s help. We never want to come before God with a presumptuous attitude. We should not come before the throne of grace flippantly or casually. To that end, they suggest two aspects of our weakness as humans. We are “utterly unable and unwilling to know and do the will of God.”
Job says that the wicked do not desire to know the ways of God (Job 21:14). That might seem obvious enough, but what about believers? The Apostle Paul acknowledged that even when he was willing to do the right thing, he was unable to carry it out in his “flesh” (Rom. 7:18). We are not naturally inclined to know God’s will (1 Cor. 2:14), and even when we desire to know it, we are incapable of following through.
What we are naturally prone to do is rebel against God’s word. Apart from the regenerating grace of God our minds remain at “enmity against God” (Rom. 8:7). In fact, we are incapable of being anything but an enemy who rebels against God.
This ought to humble us and bring us to the end of ourselves, but instead, our reaction is oftentimes to complain like the Israelites did in the wilderness (Exod. 17:7). After God graciously and sovereignly rescued them (in no uncertain ways), the children of Israel still had the audacity to grumble against Moses and Aaron (Num. 14:2).
Are we not prone toward the same attitude when we do not get what we want? The inclination of our old nature is to follow the will of the world, our flesh, and the devil (Eph. 2:2).
Let us begin our prayers for the will of God to be done by acknowledging our inability to know and do his will, and thus, our need of His help to…
GOD’S REMOVAL OF OUR REBELLION
Although we want to acknowledge our sinful disposition toward the will of God, we don’t expect to stay there. We know that God is able to remove whatever hinders our knowledge and obedience.
We ask God to remove our own blindness, as well as the blindness of others. This requires the work of the Spirit to enlighten us about the hope of our calling and the riches of the glory of our inheritance (Eph. 1:17-18).
We ask God to remove our weakness by granting us strength in our inner man by his Spirit (Eph. 3:16). We need God’s help to fight against our tired flesh which would prefer more sleep than learning and doing God’s will in prayer. Let us learn from Peter’s failure to keep awake and keep watch in prayer for the Lord in Gethsemane (Matt. 26:40-41).
We ask God to remove our perverseness of heart. This involves training us through discipline and restoring us through repentance (Jer. 31:18-19).
Knowing and doing God’s will also requires the positive…
GOD’S ENABLING OF OUR OBEDIENCE
We need the grace of God to both enable us and make us willing to know, do, and submit to his will in all things. Psalm 119 describes those whose goal is to be undefiled and walk in the law of the Lord (1) keeping his statutes (8) and precepts diligently (4). God must cause us to obey and delight in his commandments (35). Only he can incline our heart to his testimonies (36). We must submit our wills to the will of God (Acts 21:14).
God shows us in his Word what is required to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with him (Mic. 6:8). True worship is filled with the joy of the Lord (Psalm 100:2). Job’s supernatural contentment when he lost everything is testimony of God’s faithfulness to preserve us, even through the deepest suffering (Job 1:21). David wanted to do the right thing with the ark of the covenant even if it did not lead to God’s favor (2 Sam. 15:25-26). God added fifteen years to Hezekiah’s life because he was a faithful king (Isa. 38:3). We need the Lord’s enabling to serve him with zeal (Rom. 12:11), sincerity (Psalm 119:80), and constancy (Psal. 119:112).
The angels worshiping God in heaven are an example of the devotion we long for. They declare God’s holiness and glory to one another (Isa. 6:3). They bless the Lord and do his will in perfect submission (Psal. 103:20-21), including watching over of his “little ones” (Mat. 18:10).
As we have done previously, I would like to close by modeling how we might pray for the Lord’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.