Summary: This prayer is the backbone of Christian success, for it is the foundation for our confidence that God's will can be done, and it can be done by me. This is the needed balance in a world where so much is not the will of God.
There is only one of the 50 states that is named after a man, and that is the state of
Washington. It was originally named after King George III of England, and called New
Georgia. When America acquired it from Britain, they called it Columbia, and later
changed it to Washington in honor of the first President. This same piece of land bore
the name of two great enemy leaders of the American Revolution: George III of
England, and George Washington of the Colonies. It bears the name Washington now,
however, because he was the George that got the job done, and he won. His name is
honored in our land because he was victorious.
Some names are honored in more than one land. One of the most fascinating cases is
that of the great Russian Admiral, Ivan Pavel. In 1788 Catherine the Great sent him to
lead the Russian fleet against the Turks in the Black Sea, and Ivan won a stunning
victory. He won many other battles at sea as well. But you say, so what, we never heard
of the guy. That is because, as Paul Aurandt points out in his book Destiny, the name
sounds different in Russian. Ivan in English is John, and Pavel is Paul. This great
Russian hero is none other than the great American hero, John Paul Jones. This same
man, because of the persuasion of Thomas Jefferson, made a name for himself in both
the nations which became the super powers of the 20th century.
There are many who have made names that are honored in many lands, and some who
are almost universally honored. This is the ultimate objective of the plan of God for this
earth, that his name be universally honored. This is where prayer begins, says Jesus.
This is the unifying principle that makes Christians all over the world, one. They might
disagree on many things, but one thing all must hold in absolute unity is that God's name
is to be honored universally. When you care enough to pray the very best, you pray,
hallowed be thy name. Where ever the name of God is honored, people are open to
God's rule, and there His kingdom will come. And where His kingdom comes, His will
will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
The first three petitions of the Lord's Prayer are very much like the three Persons of
the Godhead in that they are one. Any one of them includes the other two. You cannot
honor His name without His kingdom coming and His will being done. You cannot see
His kingdom come, and not honor His name, and do His will. You cannot do His will, and
not honor His name, and see His kingdom come.
In Luke 11, Dr. Luke records another occasion when Jesus taught this same prayer,
and there He says only the first two, and the third petition is missing. It is there by
implication, however, for it is the logical result of God's kingdom coming. If He rules
and reigns in your life, then His will will be your supreme guide, and you will do it. The
fact that Jesus did not legalistically always say all three is evidence that He did not intend
this prayer to be a magic formula. It cannot please God by merely being repeated over
and over. It is not a form, but a guide by which we bring all of our desires into
conformity with the purpose of God.
Here in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus gives us the balance of three God-centered
desires, and three man-centered desires. Three represents the nature of God, who is
triune, and it is fascinating how the three runs through all Scripture, and nature. God's
Word and His world take on the nature of their Creator. All of nature is categorized as
animal, mineral, or vegetable. It can also be, earth, water, and air. It is also, solid, liquid,
and gas. There are hundreds of uses of three in the Bible. We cannot begin to look at
them, but just note a few examples that have influenced all of history. The three friends
of Job, the three wise men, with their three gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. On
the Mount of Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah joined Jesus, making a three person
conference, and Peter wanted to build three tabernacles to commemorate it. Jesus said
destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up, and as Jonah was three days and
three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so will I be three days and three nights in the heart
of the earth.
I share just these few well known references in order to establish how important
threes are in the Bible. It has influenced all of literature. Take children stories in our