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Your Will Be Done

Tom Pennington • Matthew 6:10

  • 2006-02-19 AM
  • Lord, Teach Us To Pray
  • Sermons


I am always amazed at the tremendous heritage that we have in the faith. One of the great joys of my life is to read from time to time, biographies of those who have walked before us and served the Lord faith fully. Several years ago I had the opportunity to read the story of John and Betty Stam, perhaps you have heard of or read their story. In 1934, John and Betty were sent to war ravaged China to serve as missionaries there within two weeks of their arrival, in one of the provinces of China, the Stam's were arrested by communist soldiers and placed under heavy guard. John wrote his missions head quarters and relayed the captors demand for a twenty thousand dollar ransom for them to be set free and sent home to the states he closed his letter to the mission headquarters with these words: "the lord bless you and guide you as for us, may God be glorified either by life or by death."

It wasn't too many days after that, one morning as Betty was bathing their little daughter, soldiers suddenly burst into the home where they had been detained, and ordered them to leave the house. John and Betty were stripped to their undergarments and paraded down the street of this little village in China. A crowd gathered around as a Communist Soldier read their death sentence. Betty was forced to watch as her husband John was beheaded and then she too was beheaded. Many years before that Betty had written these words in her journal: "Lord I give up all my own plans and purposes, all my own desires and hopes and accept thy will for my life, I give myself my life my all utterly to thee to be thine forever use me as thou wilt, send me where thou wilt, work out thy whole will in my life, at any cost, now and forever." That's exactly what Christ meant when he said that you and I should pray "Your will be done."

That's the petition the third great petition that I want us to examine today. Turn with me again to Matthew 6. Let me read this prayer yet again to you. So you have the third petition as well as its context. Matthew 6:9. "Jesus says pray then this way:

"… Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name Your kingdom come, Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven, Give us this day our daily bread, And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors, And do not lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen."]

Now we find ourselves in the middle of the six petitions that make up this wonderful prayer. As we have seen each of these petitions provides us with a new category of prayer. It's an outline if you will of all the prayers that you and I should ever pray. The first three requests as we have seen remind us that the prayers are not about us in fact the first three categories Jesus tells us into which our prayers should fall have nothing to do with our needs or desires at all they are all about God. We are to pray Jesus says for the glory of God. Hallowed be Your name. In other words, God sanctify or set apart or glorify Your person and everything by which You have made Yourself known in our lives and in the universe.

Secondly, we are to pray not only for the glory of God, but for the kingdom of God. "Your kingdom come.. As we saw last week, to pray your kingdom come means that we're praying that heart by heart the reign of Jesus Christ would be extended today that his current saving and sanctifying work in our lives, in the lives of our church, and in the lives of all those across the world, would be advanced. We're also praying by, "Your kingdom come," that God would quickly bring the day when Jesus would literally and physically reign on this earth your kingdom come.

This morning we come to the third petition found in verse ten of Matthew 6: "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Now only Matthew includes this third petition. Luke's version, in Luke 11, does not include it. I think this is because, in a sense, this third petition is contained in or rolled into the second because when the kingdom of God truly does come when its literally established on the earth then Gods will, will in fact be done on the earth and yet here when Jesus presents The Lord's Prayer as part of the Sermon on the Mount. He includes this petition; that means that he intends for it also to stand alone as a separate petition and that it should occupy a crucial part of our prayers you see we are not only to pray for the glory of God or for the kingdom of God, but we are to pray for the will of God. What does that mean? Well, to genuinely pray, "Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven", is to pray that God would produce three spiritual results. This is what we mean when we pray, "your will be done." God, produce these great results!

The first of the results that we pray for when we pray "Your will be done" is a deliberate rejection of every will but God's, a deliberate rejection of every will but God's, what do we mean when we say your will. What is it exactly that wills. The will is the faculty of a person that makes choices. I agree with Jonathan Edwards who defined the will as the mind choosing. You see when we speak of the will, understand that we are not talking about some separate compartment of your soul as if there were a mind and then there were a will. In fact your will is simply your mind choosing. And we make choices, our mind make choices, based on what we believe to be to the greatest benefit and desire of our hearts. This means, when we define the will this way, this means that every intelligent being in the universe has a will. So, when we pray God your will be done it means that we must deliberately deny what every other intelligent being in the universe wants and want only what God wants.

I don't know if you ever thought about it this way or not but there are actually several wills seeking to control your life. First of all, there is the will of Satan. In 2 Timothy 2:26 Paul tells us there are some people who are held captive by Satan to do his will. Maybe you've never realized it before but Satan actually has a will for your life, he has a will for each and every one of us. And what he wants for each of us is exactly the same as the apostle John in 1 John 2:15-16 he tells us about the system that Satan controls and lets us know what Satan's will for us is Satan wants us to pursue the cravings of our flesh the cravings of our eyes, that means the desire to posses and get, and the boastful pride of life that is exalting or taking arrogant pride in all that we are and all that we have accomplished. That's what Satan wants that's his will for our life that we would give our selves with reckless abandon to pursue the cravings of your flesh the cravings of your eyes, to get, own and possess, and the boastful pride of life. Paul puts it this way in Ephesians 2: he says you formerly walked spiritual death in the course of this world.

What is this course of this world? Well it's a course controlled by the Prince of the power of the air, that is Satan the spirit now working in the sons of disobedience. And what does he produce well we all formerly live in the cravings of our flesh indulging the desires of our flesh and our mind that is what Satan wants he wants us to sell out to the reckless pursuit of those things. Satan isn't the only one with a will for our lives? There is the will of others often people around us have a will for our lives as well. Some of you have experienced that first hand sometimes those around us try to influence us and frankly their motives are absolutely evil all they want to do is evil to involve ourselves with them to do pursue what is contrary to the will of God there is a lot of peer pressure to do something that is just dead wrong but more often this pressure to do the will of others comes from those who care about us from people who mean well, from parents and spouses and children and co-workers and family.

You see even people who love us can distract us from pursuing God's will and set us on a path to pursue their will. Our Lord encountered this very problem turn just a few pages over to Matthew 16. In Matthew 16:21 Jesus begins to prepare His disciples for the inevitable. Verse 21 says from that time that Jesus began show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and the chief priests and scribes and be killed and raised up the third day. Jesus says I want you to know this is the plan this is God's will and purpose for my life. Notice Peter's response in verse 22. Peter took Him aside. Anybody that loves you ever taken you aside? He took him aside, and he began to rebuke him saying God forbid it, Lord this shall never happen to you he says listen no that's not the best for you there's another path you should be taking. I have a plan and its my plan that you ought to be pursuing. In verse 23 Jesus turns to Peter and says, "Get behind me Satan! In other words, Peter, in causing me to move away from the will of God, you are doing the will of Satan, you are a stumbling block to me for you are not setting your mind on God's interests but on man's. But it wasn't just Peter who tried to sway the Lord to his own will opposed to God's will Jesus' family did the same thing, turn to Mark 3.

Mark 3:20 Jesus came home, literally into a house, and a crowd had gathered again to such an extent that they could not even eat a meal and when his own people, a better translation would be His own kinsfolk, and we'll find out in just a moment they are talking about His immediate family and when His family heard of this they went out to take custody of him, by the way that's a word that is used elsewhere in the New Testament when arresting someone. They went to seize Jesus by force for they were saying, "He has lost his mind." Verse 31, they arrived, his mother and his brothers arrived, and standing outside they sent word to Jesus and called Him. A crowd was sitting around him, and they said to Him, behold your mother and your brothers are outside looking for you. Answering them He said who is my mother and my brothers? Looking about at those who were sitting around him He said, "Behold my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God he is my brother my sister and my mother." He was saying my family is not about the will of God they are trying to move me from God's will to suit their will. It is really those who do the will of God that are my true family.

When we pray your will be done we are deliberately choosing to deny Satan's will for us, that is to live in pursuit of the lust of the flesh the lust of the eyes and the pride of life and we are also choosing to say that we want to deny the will of others when ever what they want conflicts with the clear will of God as its revealed in Scripture.

The greatest antagonist to our doing the will of God does not come from others, not even from Satan. What is the greatest antagonist? What is the most antagonist will in your life to the will of God? It is your own will just as it is mine. When we came to Christ, it was supposed to mean the death of ourselves and the death of our will for our lives. In Luke 9 Jesus lays out the demands for discipleship, and He does so in very hard and difficult language Luke 9:23 He was saying to them all if any one wants to come after Me, if anyone wants to be My disciple, if anyone wants to come and know the salvation that I give he must, deny himself; he must take up his cross daily and follow Me; for whoever wishes to save his own life will loose it, but whoever looses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. But what does a man profit if he gains the whole world but looses or forfeits himself? Jesus says listen, you want to come and be My disciple? You want to come and follow Me? Then it means you have got to deny yourself. Your own will is no longer the will you choose, it's no longer what determines what you do and how you live your life.

But notice Jesus says, we don't just have to deny ourselves and take up the cross, and notice that cross was an emblem of death, the cross was not just your mother-in-law, okay, the cross was an emblem of death. He's saying, you need to die to yourself, and He says not just once but notice what He says in verse 23, daily. You must die to your own will to your own determination of what you ought to do, every day. To be able to pray with our hearts means to be able to pray for the deliberate rejection of all other wills except God's.

There is a second spiritual result that we ask God to accomplish when we pray your will be done, not only the deliberate rejection of every will but God's but secondly, the unconditional acceptance of God's sovereign will; unconditional acceptance of God's sovereign will. Whenever Scripture speaks of God's will, its speaking primarily of two biblical concepts, one of two. First of all, it may be referring to God's revealed will; what theologians also call His will of precepts or His will of commands. You see God has given us His will in very direct commands that's His revealed will, His will of commands. It's contained in the pages of the Word of God. We'll talk more about that in a couple of minuets.

But the other aspect of the will of God that's contained in Scripture, in addition to His revealed will, the second form of God's will is God's sovereign will. Theologians call this His will of decree. This refers to God's eternal, unchangeable, immutable plan, which is always accomplished, always carried out. This is the will that Paul describes in Ephesians 11 when he says, God works all things, all things after the counsel of His will. Theologians also call this the eternal decree of God. Westminster shorter catechism says that decrees of God are His eternal purpose according to the counsel of His will whereby for His own glory He has foreordained whatsoever should come to pass. Wayne Grudem in his Systematic Theology says that the eternal decree is the eternal plans of God whereby before the creation of the world He determined to bring about everything that happens. You notice what those two definitions have in common? God made some decisions, secondly God made some decisions in eternity past.

Thirdly, God's decisions in eternity past were about everything that would ever happen. Now that does not excuse us from our sinful choices from our unwise choices, but God works even through those to accomplish His purposes. The will of God exists; then God's sovereign will is secret. You can't pick up a book and read about God's sovereign will for your life. The only way you know God's sovereign will is to look back after it has happened and to say, that was God's will because that is what happened. Your will be done to pray that is to more literally say, may your will take place, may it come to pass. God whatever your sovereign purpose is, whatever your sovereign plan be, let it be, let it happen.

Now understand that God's sovereign will be done on earth and there is nothing that you or I could do that could ever stop it. So, why pray about it at all. Why say Your will be done? Because we can either gladly accept it, and be grateful for it, and trust God in it, or we could whine and complain about it, and praying Your will be done brings us as we talked about last week into alignment with God and His purposes. It says God I trust You and whatever You planned before, let that happen. You see this in the New Testament. I'm reminded of the encounter in Acts 21. In Acts 21 Paul is on his way to Jerusalem. He is in Ceceria, and a man by the name of Agabus comes down to from Jerusalem to Ceceria with bad news. He takes Paul's belt and binds his hands and feet and says this is what's going to happen to the owner of this belt in Jerusalem. And so immediately, verse 12, when the people there with Paul heard this as well as the local residents began begging Paul not to go up to Jerusalem, and Paul answers: what are you doing weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. Verse 14, and since he would not be persuaded, we fell silent murmuring may God's sovereign purposes for Paul be done. Whatever God has determined for Paul let it happen.

We will get to James 4 in the study of this little letter, but in James four he makes the same point notice James 4:13, "Come now, you who say, 'Today and tomorrow we will go into such and such a city and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.'" Now understand James is not de-crying here wise planning or even wise business planning. He's de-crying those who make their plans without any recognition of God's purposes. Verse 14, "… you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor who is here for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will do this or that." That does not mean you throw that in as a catch phrase. It means you live in the awareness that God has a sovereign plan and purpose that you cannot know until it happens, and you acknowledge that, and you live in submission and acceptance of that. The spirit of John Newton who lived back in the 1700s who, while his wife lay dying, wrote in his journal, "What thou wilt, when thou wilt, how thou wilt."

To pray, "Your will be done" is accepting God's sovereign will for our lives without qualification or argumentation. It means to say, "God I wholeheartedly accept whatever you bring into my life." It is a prayer that encompasses all the circumstances of this life including our death. It's a prayer for His will to be accomplished in everything. It means we pray that God's sovereign plan will be accomplished in the world, that it will be accomplished in the rise and fall of nations, in the life of our country, in our church. It means to pray for God's will to be done in the major decisions of life where we'll go to school, who we'll marry, the city where we live, the church we attend the career we choose. It's accepting God's will in the outward successes or failures, riches or poverty, health or sickness, marriage or singleness, joy or sorrow, comfort and ease or troubles and trials. It means agreeing with God for His will to be done whether it means life or death. It means to bow the knee before God and let God be God. God Your will be done in my life and in my family and in my church and the nation and in the world.

But Your will be done includes the everyday issues of life not just the big things. And if we are honest with ourselves, this is where it is more difficult. It is a lot easier to acknowledge God's sovereignty and submit to it when the word cancer comes, sometimes, than it is with the small issues of life. It means praying God, I accept whatever circumstances you providentially choose to bring into my life today, and I will do it without whining or arguing. Whatever interruptions, whatever distractions, whatever people, I want your sovereign will to be done in my life today. Make it so.

Is that how you pray? If we are honest, for most of us, that's a very tough thing to say. It's a very tough thing to mean in our hearts. How can you and I come to the place where from our hearts we can completely accept and embrace God's sovereign will. It comes from trusting God to do what is best in our lives and that kind of trust only grows out of a true knowledge of who God is. I can tell you this morning, that if you have trouble accepting God's sovereign will for your life then it's because you don't know Him, you don't know who He is, you don't know what's true about Him.

We don't usually get to glimpse ahead for God's sovereign will for our lives, we only get to know it after it happens. But through prophesy, in the Old Testament, there were those men who got to look ahead at what was coming. They got a glimpse, a preview, a sneak preview if you will of God's sovereign will for their lives and one of those prophets was the prophet Habakkuk. Probably not a popular name in this generation or the next for you to name your kids, nevertheless, an amazing man. Turn to Habakkuk 1. The preview that Habakkuk gets of God's sovereign purposes showed that his nation, Habakkuk's nation, and his people and his friends and his family was going to be attacked and his nation destroyed by the Babylonians.

As you might expect, as would be true of any of us, Habakkuk enters a time of doubt and distrust. "God, how can you let this happen?" Notice 1:13, we often quote this verse, but we are not always familiar with its context. He says, God Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You cannot look on wickedness with favor, so why is it that you look with favor on those that deal treacherously? Why are you silent when the wicked swallow up those who are more righteous than they? Yes, God, Your people, Israel, are wicked, but they are more righteous than the Babylonians. How can you do this? But Hababkuk finally comes to the place where with unqualified attitude he accepts God's sovereign will. How does he get there? He gets there by trusting in the character of God.

In 2:4 you have those words that the apostle Paul quotes three times in the New Testament, "The just, the righteous ones will live, how? By faith. I trust you God, I don't understand, I'll never understand but I trust you. And I love the way he ends his little letter, Habakkuk 3:17.

Though the fig tree should not blossom And there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield on the olive should fail and the fields produce no … [fruit,] Though the flocks should be cut off from the fold And there be no cattle in the stalls, [you know what Habakkuk is saying? He's saying, remember now he's from an agricultural society, he's saying, if everything that I depend on for life and health and security and strength goes away; if my world unravels at the seams; if everything that I lean on crashes around me; if my life as I know, it comes to a complete and utter destruction,] verse 18, Yet I will exalt in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, … he has made my feet like hinds' feet, And [He] makes me walk on my high places.

Habakkuk found trust in God's purposes. He came to fully accept God's sovereign will for his life and the life of his nation, How? By focusing on his God.

The only way you or I will come to be able to truly trust God is to know who he is, to know as the Psalmist said in Psalm 145 that all of his deeds are righteous and all of his acts are kindness. I love the Psalm that I learned as a new Christian, Psalm 9:10, Those who know your name, that is those who understand what your like who truly comprehend you, they will put their trust in you. Are you willing to pray, "Your sovereign will be done in my life?" Are you willing to say, as Jesus teaches us here, "your will be done?" Then it means that you must deny every other will but God's, and secondly it means that you must unconditionally accept God's sovereign will for each day for your entire life. By the way this isn't just a prayer for us, we are to pray that in our family that in our children, in our friends, in our church, in everyone that we know and in fact in every corner of the universe that God's sovereign will would be done.

There is a third result that you and I are asking God to produce when we pray, "Your will be done". It means that we are praying for willing obedience to God's revealed will; willing obedience to God's revealed will. Remember I said that when Scripture refers to the will of God, it is referring to either His sovereign will, which we just looked at, or His revealed will, what theologians call His will of precept, or His will of command. You see God has given us His will, laid out on the pages of Scripture. This is what God wants. This is what God wills. Now which of these two wills, God's sovereign will or God's revealed will, did Jesus mean in Matthew 6:10, "Your will be done."

Well, I think He intended to include God's sovereign will and accepting God's sovereign will, but He gives us a clue as to what the real emphasis is with a little phrase that He adds at the end: "Your will be done in earth as it is in heaven." Literally, "As in heaven also upon the earth." Now think about that for a moment, God's sovereign will is already done, absolutely the same in heaven and in earth. God's sovereign purposes will never be thwarted, he does as he pleases the psalmist says, "In heaven, upon the earth". So, God's sovereign will happens already the same in heaven and on earth, but God's will of command, God's Word if you will, His revealed will, is only perfectly obeyed, where? In heaven.

In fact, turn back to Psalm 103. In Psalm 103 you have this description of God's will of command perfectly obeyed in His presence. Psalm 103:19, "The Lord has established His throne in the heavens and His sovereignty rules over all. Bless the Lord, you His angels, mighty in strength." Watch this, "Who perform His word, obeying the voice of His word, Bless the Lord all you," that is His angelic hosts. "You who serve Him doing His will." That can be said of heaven, but it can't be said of earth. So, listen carefully, a significant part of this third petition if that God's commands, His revealed will, that we find on the pages of Scripture, would be obeyed by us and all kinds in the same way that it is obeyed by the angels and all those in heaven. This was Jesus' greatest concern during His earthly life, in Hebrews 10 it says, "I have come to do your will, O God." In John 6:38 Jesus said, "I have come down from heaven not to do My Own will, but the will of Him who sent me." And for us where is it that the revealed will of God is revealed? Its revealed on the pages of Scripture, it's in His Word.

Listen to Psalm 40:8, "I delight to do your will, Oh my God." So where is it you learn the will of God? Listen to the second half of that verse, "Your law is within my heart." The will of God is contained on the pages of the Word of God. You know so many Christians spend their lives looking for the will of God as if it were some sort of phantom to be chased when it is revealed right here in a book. What is God's will for you? Well there are six things. Let me give them to you quickly, that Scripture specifically tells us are God's will. Here's God's will for you:

Number one, His will is for you to be saved. First Timothy 2:3,

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God, who desires [literally who wills] all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of truth.

Obviously, this isn't His sovereign will because all men won't be saved. This is His will of command. It's His will of precept. He tells all men everywhere to repent and believe. This is God's will for you. This is where the path of God's will begins. If you sit here this morning and you have never repented of your sin, turned from what you know to be sin and embraced Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, this is where the will of God begins. He wants you to be saved, be delivered, be rescued from your sins and the penalty they deserve, and you do that by repenting and believing.

Secondly, Scripture says that it's God's will for us to be filled with the Spirit. Ephesians 5:17,

"… do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, … but be filled with the Spirit."

This is God's will, that you and I would be filled with the spirit what does that mean? Well, in a parallel passage in Colossians 3-:16, He gives us a little different wording that helps us understand it. He says let the Word of Christ dwell richly within you. To be filled with the Spirit is to be permeated by, controlled by the Word of God.

Number three: He wants us to be sanctified, to be sanctified. First Thessalonians 4:3,

"For this is the will of God, your sanctification, … [to] abstain from sexual immorality, that each of you know how to possess His own vessel in sanctification and in honor … For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but … [for] sanctification. [This is God's will for you, that you would become increasingly holy and like Jesus Christ.]

Number four: Its God's will that you submit to authority. First Peter 2:13, "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, for such is the will of God." God wills for you and for me to submit our wills to the will of dully constituted authority, whether it be in the home with parents or whether it be the government and everything in between.

Number five: God wills for us to show gratitude. First Thessalonians 5:18. "In everything give thanks for this is God's will for you, in Christ Jesus."

Number six: It's God's will for you to suffer for the sake of Christ. Second Timothy 3: 12, "Indeed all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. Compare that to 1 Peter 4:19, "Therefore those also who suffer according to the will of God, shall entrust their souls to a faithful creator…."

There's God's will for you, to be saved, to be spirit filled, to be sanctified, to be submissive, to be showing gratitude, and to be suffering. When you pray for God's will to be done. You are asking God to make those things a reality in your life and in the lives of others. It's a prayer to bring you and your family, and your church, and your friends, and every intelligent being in the universe into conformity with God's will as it is revealed in God's Word. God, Your will be done. So, when you and I pray, "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven," we are asking God in effect to produce three great spiritual results: A deliberate rejection of all wills but God's, an unconditional acceptance of God's sovereign will, and a willing obedience to God's revealed will.

This morning we are going to partake of the Lord's table, and it's interesting that the most profound illustration of what it means to pray this third petition comes from the lips of our Lord Himself. Some of you have probably been sitting there thinking about it as I have been speaking here this morning and wondering when I was going to mention it. Luke 22:42 we find Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, and what does He pray? He says, "Father, if you are willing remove this cup from Me."

That wasn't a prayer to remove the physical suffering that was coming. Human martyrs have faced suffering like that bravely. No, Jesus knew that what was coming, what He feared, what He did not anticipate with eagerness was that separation from His father. It was bearing the weight of the sin of the world. It was having the wrath of God poured out upon Him. And He says, "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from Me. Yet, not My will but Yours be done." When we partake of the Lord's table this morning, we are reminded of what it actually cost our Lord to pray this prayer and what it may cost us.

Let's pray together.

Lord, Teach Us To Pray