Summary: Sermon on Third Petition of Lord's Prayer: “Your Will Be Done On Earth As It Is In Heaven”
How would you finish this sentence? “I want to be like…” When I was in junior high everyone on my basketball team would have said, “I want to be like Mike,” Michael Jordan that is. Perhaps you want to be like a famous singer, a celebrated author, or a successful entrepreneur. But who does God want you to be like? That’s what counts doesn’t it? If I insisted on playing like Michael Jordan and driving to the hoop through traffic or taking outside shots beyond my range, I would have spent more time on the bench than I already did in Jr. High. For the good of the team I needed to be the player my coach wanted me to be.
Likewise it’s imperative that we be the kind of people God wants us to be or we won’t just be benched but banished from God’s love forever. In the Third Petition of the Lord’s Prayer, God tells us who he wants us to be like. When we pray, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” we’re asking God: “Make me like an angel!” In what ways should we want to be like an angel? Let’s find out.
Angels are spiritual beings God created sometime within the six days of creation. But some angels, led by Satan, rebelled against God. God immediately judged these evil angels while he confirmed the good angels in their righteousness. What that means is that evil angels cannot be converted to do good while good angels cannot fall into sin but are always eager to do God’s will.
It’s in this way that God wants us to be like the angels – always eager to do his will. But like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden who declared: “My will be done,” we also often would much rather do our will than God’s. And so when we come to the Third Petition we’re asking that God would quash our sinful nature and carry out his will through us. While our will is to serve ourselves God’s will is that we serve others. Our will is to be like the world but God’s will is that we be like him.
But with the Third Petition we’re not just asking that we be led to do what God wants, we want to be led to do what God wants with the right attitude. When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before his death, he was in great anguish over his forthcoming crucifixion. He even asked his heavenly Father for another way to win our salvation. There wasn’t another way of course but you don’t hear Jesus let out a big sigh as if to say, “Well, if there’s no other way…OK, I guess I’ll do it. But don’t think I’m happy about it!” Compare Jesus’ attitude with yours when sweeping the floor or unloading the dish washer. You may be doing what Mom and Dad asked you to do but if you huff and puff in exasperation, as if saddled with a big burden, that would be a good time to pray: “Lord, let your will be done and not my will. Help me to honor my parents and to serve you with cheerful obedience, as your Son demonstrated and as the angels always do.”
One reason we’re often reluctant servants is because we don’t always understand why God tells us to do the things that he does. Why should I help my sister pick up her toys when she rarely does the same for me? And why should I forgive her when he doesn’t seem sorry for what she has done? It’s at times like these that we want to be like the angels that the prophet Isaiah saw at his ordination. In Isaiah 6 the prophet saw angels who had six wings each. With two of the wings they covered their face in God’s presence because as awesome as the angels are, God is so much more awesome. And what else were these angels doing? They were praising God crying out: “Holy, holy, holy!” These angels weren’t trying to figure God out. They simply praised him for his perfect ways.
This humble angel-like attitude is especially needed when you read the reports coming out of Japan. I’ve asked daily, “Lord, what’s going on?” I want to make sense of all the destruction that has occurred, not just in Japan but in Haiti and Chile and anywhere else hit by devastating disasters. It’s OK to ask the question but God wants us to trust, as do the angels, that he knows what’s going on and has a plan. Therefore we can simply pray, “Your will be done. Lord, help me to trust that your perfect will is being accomplished even when I can’t make sense of it.”