To pray for God’s will on earth is to embrace His will in my life. No prayer can be sincere for the whole if it omits or ignores the power of an individual. “If you think that one person can’t make a difference, try spending the night with a mosquito.” Part of the illness of this present age is cynicism. Many openly deny that it is possible to know and do the will of God. We see ourselves as flawed. We have lost our dream. Prayer is a call for the power of God to fill us for this glorious possibility. Friend, how convinced are you that, with His supernatural help, you can know and do His will? How certain are you that you have been “created unto good works that God prepared beforehand” (Ephesians 2:10) Our reading this week is Numbers 13 and 14. Interesting reflection on the subject of doing what God calls us to do. More tomorrow.
“Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of Him who sent me.” (John :38) What is life like in heaven? What are the habits and values of that glorious community? It is a question that must be answered before we can pray the Lord’s prayer with understanding. Only best clue is the life of Christ. Having come from Heaven, He is representative of that powerful assembly and how they respond to the will of God. Consider His commitment to God’s will, the priority He placed on hearing the voice of the Father, his courage in carrying it out. To pray for God’s will to be done on earth in the manner that it is done in heaven is to pray for Christ-likeness. Our priority and passion and privilege will be the will of God.
“Thy will be done.” People who pray this prayer often know only one side of it, the resignation. Jesus in Gethsemane is our template. He accepts pain. He submits to loss. He prays, “not my will but thine be done”. But the will of God isn’t always something burdensome to bear. It is something glorious to do! We are not mourners only. We are soldiers also, accepting a commission, grateful for the grand purpose we have for life. To pray, “Thy will be done” is to dream and desire a glorious world and to ask God’s power for achieving it. Today in worship at FBCSA we will study Exodus 32. Moses will be a different example. He will perceive the “higher purpose” of the Lord (ie mercy) and seek it through prayer. May all of us learn this lesson. Sometimes prayer is resignation. Sometimes it is courageous intercession for the higher purposes of God.
If I call God King, He may say that I have been a rebellious subject and refuse to hear me. If I call God Creator, He may say that I have fallen short of His purpose and ignore my plea for help. If I call God Judge, He may say that I have broken His law and condemn me. But if I call God Father, He must hear my call because my sins can never change the fact that I am His son. When I talk with my Father, I am not afraid that He misunderstands me. I may get the words out of place, but He hears me somehow. It is not something that I can depend on from the Governor or a friend, but hearing me and helping me is something that I can count on with my Dad. May the Lord teach us to pray these wonderful words!
Romans 8 speaks of “the spirit of adoption by which we cry ‘Abba Father’ “. What is the spirit of adoption? It is a combination of faith that knows God to be Father, love that loves Him as Father, joy that relaxes in His love, and confidence that looks to Him for protection and supply. Martin Luther said that there is more eloquence in the words, ” Our Father” than in all the orations of educated men. Friend, do you have this spirit? Do you have the inner assurance that you are a child of God and therefore have all access to His promises and protection? If not, then it is time for you to seek Him, to look to Christ on the cross who gave His life so that you can be born into a family. . . a family of prayer. Calling God Father must rise from deep within our hearts. It is a gift of God’s Spirit.
When we become aware of our Father, we become aware of our brothers and sisters. Jesus does not teach us to pray, “MY father”. He teaches us to pray, “OUR Father”. Every prayer, every morning is a consciousness of others who are related to us by a common love for Christ. Some of God’s children differ from us in doctrine. The tensions can be very real, but the assignment stands. If we only love those who agree with us on all points who will be left? Some of God’s children have different stations in life. They are poor in this world but rich in faith. Some of God’s children are separated from us by continents and culture, but it is remarkable how similar we are on our knees. Pray this morning, friend! Pray with an awareness of your large family and your powerful Father. Then stand and act it. If God is our Father, we have many brothers and sisters.
Today’s inspiring thought is from Charles Spurgeon. There are no degrees of sonship. Either we are a children or we are not. No one is “almost” or “partly” a member of God’s family. The elder brother was not more related to the father than the prodigal. “You have children yourselves. One is grown up and out in business, another is still a child in arms with daily needs. Which is most your child? ‘Both’ you say. So the little Christian is as much a child of God as the great one.” If we are born again, neither David, nor Paul, nor any of the giants of the faith are more welcome or loved than we are! We have a full and permanent place in the family of God. The privilege of prayer is ours. Let this give us courage when we draw near to God and say, “Our Father which art in Heaven.”
If our sonship (through adoption) assures us of God’s love, it also requires love from us. It is natural and right for a child to love his/her Father. What do we think of a child who repays a parent’s love with selfishness and ingratitude? Doesn’t the universe, in similar fashion, judge us who receive from God without loving Him in return. Friend, do you love your Father in Heaven? The language of love is obedience. When He says, “do this”, we do it. When He forbids a path, we avoid it because we love Him. Jesus said, “If you love me keep my commandments” (John 14:15) How strange it must appear in Heaven for people to call God “Father” and still live in rebellion and resistance. As you pray today, will you draw near to God like a child? Will you receive His love? Will you give yours in return?
Yesterday (at FBCSA) we spoke of parents. We considered the courageous promises that we must make so as to fulfill our duties to God and our children. Did the Spirit of God speak to you, calling new commitments from your heart? Today we reverse the image and think of ourselves as a children. Jesus taught his disciples to pray, “Our Father”. It is only true for those who have been born again. The Bible gives testimony to the “spirit of adoption” (Romans 8 ) by which a person becomes a child of God. “No man has a right to claim God as his Father unless he believes, solemnly, that he has been adopted. . .He has been taken out of the old family, into which he was born, washed, cleansed, given a new name and a new spirit.” (Charles Spurgeon) All prayer rises or falls on this truth. If we have been adopted, the Father will turn His great heart toward us as we pray.
“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Other than the encouragement of the Lord, why do Christians pray these words? Because we are afraid that we will not stand in temptation. Because we know ourselves to be weak and therefore need His intervention and daily guidance. It is a logical development of our previous prayers. What folly it is to pray for forgiveness of sin if we do not sincerely desire to avoid it in the future. What dishonesty it is to ask for His cleansing and, at the same time, entertain thoughts of doing it again. “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” said Jesus to his friend Peter. Part of our daily conversation with the Father should be a frank conversation about the “unconverted parts” of our fickle hearts. He does not reject us for this admission. He wants us to talk honestly with Him. He wants us to have a healthy fear of sin.