Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10)
God’s will is done in the realm of heaven.
- The Lord sent an angel to guard the entrance to Eden after the fall and he did (Genesis 3:24).
- The Lord sent an angel to deliver Lot and his family and he did (Genesis 19:15).
- The Lord sent an angel deliver Israel in battle and he did (2 Chronicles 32:20-23).
- The Lord sent an angel to announce the birth of His Son and Gabriel did (Luke 1:26).
God’s will is done in the realm of the animal kingdom.
- The Lord summoned animals to the ark and they did their Creator’s bidding (Genesis 7:14-15).
- The Lord summoned frogs, flies, and locusts to plague Egypt and they did their Creator’s bidding (Exodus 8:1-15; 20-32; 10:1-20).
- The Lord summoned ravens to feed His prophet and they did their Creator’s bidding (1 Kings 17:6).
- The Lord summoned a great fish to transport Jonah to Nineveh and it did its Creator’s bidding (Jonah 1:17).
- The Lord summoned a fish to bring a coin with which Peter would pay his taxes and it did its Creator’s bidding (Matthew 17:27).
God’s will is done in the realm of the natural world.
- The Lord commanded light to be and light was (Genesis 1:3)
- The Lord sent rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights (Genesis 7:4).
- The Lord displayed a rainbow to represent His covenant with Noah (Genesis 9:13)
- The Lord caused the wind to blow to take away the swarm of locusts from Egypt (Exodus 10:19)
- The Lord stopped the sun so that Israel would route their enemies in battle (Joshua 10:13)
- The Lord appointed a plant, a worm, and an east wind to instruct Jonah (Jonah 4:6, 7, 8).
- The Lord caused a great darkness to cover the land while His Son died on the cross (Matthew 27:45; cf. Exodus 10:21-29)
While God’s will is done in the realm of heaven, the animal kingdom, and the natural world but God’s will is not yet perfectly done on earth in the hearts of men and women.
- The Lord commanded Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They ate (Genesis 3:3, 6, 22).
- The Lord commanded Israel not to have idols (Exodus 20:4; Leviticus 26:1; Deuteronomy 27:15). They had them (2 Kings 17:12).
- The Lord told Jonah to go to Nineveh (Jonah 1:2). He went in the opposite direction (Jonah 1:3).
- The Lord invited the rich young ruler to follow Him. He turned the invitation away (Matthew 19:16-22).
So we pray “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This begins in your heart and mine. Maybe we find it difficult to pray because we currently reign on the throne of our hearts. It’s possible that we declare that we have no other king but Caesar and we cherish the earthly kingdom of this world and look for political messiahs rather than God’s messiah, Jesus. There is coming a day when God’s will will be done on earth as it is in heaven. In the meantime, we earnestly pray for it to come, even if we will only experience foretastes now. Christian prayer is a humble commitment to the rule and purposes of God over our lives and all of history.
(Picture credit: I could not find an original source for the image. I will gladly provide credit if/when I obtain the information.)
How do we pray substantive prayers for our church when we don’t know how to pray specifically for them? Paul’s prayers for the churches provide some of the best ways to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Here are six ways a Christian can pray for his/her church family from Colossians 1:3-14.
- We can pray that faith in Christ, love for one another, and hope for the life to come would be evident in our church (vv. 3-5a).
- We can pray that the word of God would have free course and would bear fruit in our church (vv. 5b-6).
- We can pray that those who teach and preach would have an effective ministry of the word (v. 7).
- We can pray for the knowledge of God’s will by knowing His word (v. 9).
- We can pray for a fruitful Christian life that “walks” in the knowledge of God (v. 10).
- We can pray for the divine strength for perseverance characterized by patience and joy (v. 11).
Here’s a wonderful excerpt from a prayer in The Valley of Vision, “Need of Grace.” The weaving together of the dreadfulness of sin mingled with the believer’s longing for grace makes for a biblically rich aspiration and meditation.
Thou makest me possess the sins of my youth,
and the dreadful sin of my nature,
so that I feel all sin,
I cannot think or act but every motion is sin.
Return again with showers of converting grace
to a poor gospel-abusing sinner.
Help my soul to breathe after holiness,
after a constant devotedness to thee,
after growth in grace more abundantly every day.
O that all my distresses and apprehensions
might prove but Christ’s school
to make me fit for greater service
by teaching me the great lesson of humility.
(The entire prayer can be found in Arthur Bennett, ed., The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions [The Banner of Truth Trust: Carlise, PA, 2005], 99).
Will you and I be a catalyst for revival by humbly, desperately, and tenaciously crying out to God for it? Byron Paulus, Executive Director and President of Life Action Ministries, challenges believers, especially Christian leaders, in a recent edition of Revive:
The kind of leaders God will use in the next spiritual awakening here in America will resemble those He used in Uganda—leaders who admit they don’t know what to do, so they fall on their knees in desperation and cry out to God for His deliverance; and leaders who will seek to mobilize God’s people to ‘deep, consistent, groaning prayers that never take no for an answer.’
You can read the brief but excellent article, “Let’s Cultivate Desperation,” here.
“But when we survey all the sources from which trouble comes, it all resolves itself into two invaluable truths: First, that our troubles at last are of the Lord. They come with His consent He is in all of them, and is interested in us when they press and bruise us. And secondly, that our troubles, no matter what the cause, whether of ourselves, or men or devils, or even God Himself, we are warranted in taking them to God in prayer, in praying over them, and in seeking to get the greatest spiritual benefits out of them” (E.M. Bounds, The Essentials of Prayer, 25).
An important reminder and reproof from E.M. Bounds,
If it be contended that the work of God is progressing, and that we are growing in holiness, then some perplexing questions arise which will be hard to answer. If the Church is making advances on the lines of deep spirituality—if we are a praying people, noted for our prayer habits—if our people are hungering after holiness—then let us ask, why do we now have so few mighty outpourings of the Holy Spirit on our chief churches and our principal appointments? Why is it that so few of our revivals spring from the life of the pastor, who is noted for his deep spirituality, or the life of our church? Is the Lord’s hand shortened that He cannot save? Is His ear heavy that He cannot hear? Why is it that in order to have so-called revivals, we must have outside pressure, by the reputation and sensation of some renowned evangelist? This is largely true in our larger charges and with our leading men. Why is it that the pastor is not sufficiently spiritual, holy and in communion with God, that he cannot hold his own revival services, and have large outpourings of the Holy Spirit on the Church, the community and upon himself? There can be but one solution for all this state of things. We have cultivated other things to the neglect of the work of holiness. We have permitted our minds to be preoccupied with material things in the Church. Unfortunately, whether designedly or not, we have substituted the external for the internal. We have put that which is seen to the front and shut out that which is unseen. It is all too true as to the Church, that we are much further advanced in material matters than in matters spiritual (E.M. Bounds, The Essentials of Prayer, 33).
Charles Spurgeon used preach extemporaneous messages to his congregation when they gathered for prayer. The messages were intended to exhort his church to pray. Spurgeon valued the prayer meeting as a vital and indispensable church activity as well as a sign of his church’s spiritual health. I found the citation below from one of his prayer meeting sermons, “Only a Prayer Meeting”. It’s a phenomenal quote. A book by the same title, Only a Prayer Meeting, contains a collection of Spurgeon’s sermons delivered at the Tabernacle’s prayer meetings. I found a downloadable Word version here.
What a company we have here to-night! It fills my heart with gladness, and my eyes with tears of joy, to see so many hundreds of persons gathered together at what is sometimes wickedly described as “only a prayer-meeting.” It is good for us to draw nigh unto God in prayer, and specially good to make up a great congregation for such a purpose. We have attended little prayer-meetings of four or five, and we have been glad to be there, for we had the promise of our Lord’s presence; but our minds are grieved to see so little attention given to united prayer by many of our churches. We have longed to see great numbers of God’s people coming up to pray, and we now enjoy this sight. Let us praise God that it is so. How could we expect a blessing if we were too idle to ask for it? How could we look for a Pentecost if we never met with one accord, in one place, to wait upon the Lord? Brethren, we shall never see much change for the better in our churches in general till the prayer-meeting occupies a higher place in the esteem of Christians (emphasis added).
The 21st century church would do well to continue the practice of the first century church as recorded by Luke in Acts 1:14 (cf. Acts 2:42; 6:4; 13:3; Romans 12:12; Colossians 4:2; Ephesians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:17),
All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers (emphasis added)