Summary: To pray for the will of God to be done in the aftermath of the terror of Sept. 11 is to see that the will of God and the ways of God must always be joined; to avoid sinking to the level of the terrorists; and to repent of little faith and recommmit to the

A number of years ago, a poet penned poignant words as he saw the beginning of the end for the greatest nation of his day. He saw that the far-flung influence his country had thrown over much of the world could no longer be held. The people who had felt pressed by it were demanding their own voice. He saw also that his own people would be tempted to sink to terrible depths trying to maintain their place in the world. In a time of crisis, we are tempted to take matters into our own hands, we are tempted to forget history, and worse, we are tempted to forget about God’s will and God’s ways. We start to think we must win by any means necessary. And that is dangerous indeed.

We would do well to hear this poet. His name was Rudyard Kipling. It is his prayer as he saw great changes for Britain:

“God of our fathers, known of old,

Lord of our far-flung battle line,

Beneath whose awful hand we hold

Dominion over palm and pine –

Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,

Lest we forget – lest we forget!

The tumult and the shouting dies;

The captains and the kings depart:

Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,

An humble and a contrite heart.

Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,

Lest we forget – lest we forget!

Far-called, our navies melt away;

On dune and headland sinks the fire:

Lo, all our pomp of yesterday

Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!

Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,

Lest we forget – lest we forget!

If, drunk with sight of power, we loose

Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe,

Such boastings as the Gentiles use,

Or lesser breeds without the Law –

Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,

Lest we forget – lest we forget!

For heathen heart that puts her trust

In reeking tube and iron shard,

All valiant dust that build on dust,

And guarding, calls not Thee to guard,

For frantic boast and foolish word –

Thy Mercy on Thy People, Lord!”

I’m sure that we have all been hit with a wide range of emotions this week. I have felt shock and disbelief – that anything of like this was actually going on. I felt disappointment – that our defense systems had not caught the attack. I felt loneliness, and just wanted to be at home with those I love most. And I felt what I could only call the weight of the moment – a heaviness for our human condition, for the exceeding sinfulness of sin. I felt lots of things. But some things I did not feel. I did not feel terror. I did not feel overwhelming anxiety. I did not feel despair. And there is a reason. It has to do with prayer, and it has to do with the will of God.

Jesus told us to pray, “Thy will be done”. What is that? Is that a sigh of resignation? “You have beaten me down, great big God, so have it your way?” “Thy will be done”. Or is it a breathless scream into the night? “You are awfully late, Lord, in doing what You are supposed to do, so get to it?” Or is it that our prayer for the will of God to be done is something more – something that carries with it a reason to hope and even the source of joy?

“Thy will be done”. Even after an attack on America. How? Jesus found Himself one day faced with some frustrated folks. His disciples had tried to cure a sick child, and they had failed. We’re not given many details, but Jesus expressed deep disappointment. He called His disciples “faithless” and “perverse” and wondered out loud how long He would have to put up with them. They had tried to do something they thought was in the will of God, but it didn’t work. Why not?


I want you to see that when we talk about the will of God, we need to couple that with understanding the ways of God. The will of God is always joined with the ways of God. They go hand in hand. They will not contradict one another.

Sometimes we get a peculiar picture of what we think the will of God is. We seize it, we hang on to it, we go for it. It has to be right, because we thought of it! It’s God’s will, and so we plunge ahead and try to make it happen, by any means necessary. The results are often disastrous. We have forgotten the ways of God. We have forgotten to look into God’s heart.

I don’t pretend to be any kind of carpenter. I’m afraid that when I have a carpentry job to do, I take the lazy way out. Instead of drilling pilot holes before joining two pieces of wood, I just start driving in screws. Never mind that the wood fibers are too dense or that the screw is too large; if I want it in there, I will work it and work it and work it some more until – pow! The screw snaps off, or the wood splits, and I’ve made a mess of it. Do you see what’s wrong? I have decided what is to be done, I have decided to get it done by any means necessary. But the end is a disaster, because I have willed what I want to do, but I have not thought about the right way to do it.

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