September 15, 2019
5 “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 6 But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7 “When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9 “Pray then in this way:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.
14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; 15 but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. 38 Then he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.” 39 And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.” 40 Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? 41 Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again he went away for the second time and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.”
Author and professor Lewis Smedes used to ask his students if they wanted to go to heaven when they died. And as you would imagine, everyone would raise their hand. Of course they all wanted to go to heaven. Who wouldn’t?
But then he'd ask, "Okay, great. Now, who would like to go to heaven today?"
For this, a few students would raise their hands slowly, unsure of themselves, giving what they thought was the correct answer, looking around to see if they were the only ones. Turns out, most people wanted a rain check. They wanted to go to heaven, just not quite yet.
Then Professor Smedes would ask who would like to see the world set straight once and for all. Describing heaven as a place where there would be no more common colds or uncommon cancers. Hungry people would have plenty; no one would lift a finger to harm another; we would be at peace with everyone, even with ourselves. He looked at everyone asked asked, “Does anyone want that?”
And of course, hands would go up immediately. And Smedes point in all of this was to say that if that’s what heaven is really like, then wouldn’t you want that right here, right now?
You see, the very fact that many of us want to go to heaven someday down the road, but yet don’t want to go there right now, tells us that on some level we’re either too satisfied with our life here on earth or we don’t really understand just how great heaven actually is.
This fall we’re doing a short sermon series on the Lord’s Prayer and this is week 2 of our 5 week series. And this morning we’re looking at the part of the prayer that says, “Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done, On Earth as it is in Heaven.”
And we’ve got our work cut out for us because in these short phrases, we’ve got at least three words that can be difficult to understand: Kingdom, Will, Heaven. But we’ll get there in just a few minutes …
First things first, we’re looking at the Lord’s Prayer for a few reasons, one of which being, it’s a prayer that we pray here in worship each and every Sunday, and so it’s a chance for us to break the prayer down line by line and really think through what it is that we’re praying for when we pray it.
But even more, if you’re anything like me, it can be hard sometimes to know exactly what or how to pray, which puts us in good company, because Jesus’s disciples asked him for guidance on this very topic, when they asked him, “Lord, teach us how to pray …”
And this prayer, the Lord’s Prayer is what he gave them. It’s a short, punchy, powerful prayer, an absolutely incredible economy of words, saying so much in so little. And the more and more we understand this prayer, the more we understand both the essence of prayer and the Christian life itself. And to use an analogy that we introduced last week, if prayer is like learning to play the guitar, then Lord’s Prayer on some level is like learning the most basic and most necessary chords. Because while the Lord’s Prayer doesn’t capture everything about prayer or tell us about every kind of prayer we can pray, it gives us the essentials and basic foundation of prayer itself, and the more and more we understand this prayer, the more we’ll know how and what to pray for in general, that is the more songs we’ll be able to play, if you will.
And so, just to get everyone up to speed, let’s quickly do a recap of what we’ve studied so far.
Last week we looked at the first two lines of the prayer. And right away, as we address God as “Our Father,” we’re being told so much about how we should approach God in prayer. You see, if God is our Heavenly Father, then we go to God in prayer both with a deep sense of humility and trust but also a deep sense of confidence and assurance.
Humility and trust because just as a son or daughter relates to their parents, we go to God in prayer with the understanding that God knows more than us and therefore may say no to our requests because they’re ultimately not for our best, just as parent would discern that for a child.
But yet, at the same time, we go to God with a deep sense of confidence and assurance because we know that just as a kid boldly and unashamedly talks to and asks for things from their parent, so too we can with God, our Heavenly Father.
In prayer, we go to God, with a beautiful combination of humility and trust, confidence and assurance.
In the next line we pray, hallowed be your name. The idea being that God himself would be praised, celebrated, honored and adored by all people at all times. That God would be worshipped as one who is powerful, wise, just, merciful, full of grace and truth. And notice that this prayer comes right at the beginning, before most everything else. Before we ask God for anything, before we ask him to give us our daily bread, first we’re called to worship him, to praise him.
Now at first glance, we can look at this and think, alright, let’s just get the pleasantries out of the way before we get to the part of prayer I really care about, the part where I ask God for stuff.
Parents, you know this tactic well. Your kid comes up to you and out of nowhere. “Mom, dad, I love you. You’re amazing. You’re the best parent ever.” And initially you think to yourself, “You know, you’re right, I am amazing.” And then your kid keeps going, “Mom, Dad, you are just the greatest. I couldn’t ask for better parents.” And you think to yourself, “Wait, a minute, you’re just trying to butter me up so that I’ll give you what you ask for.”
You see, this can be how we think about praising and adoring God, we’re just buttering God up so that we can get God in a good mood so we can get what we want, as if that tactic was going to work in the first place. Of course, we know intuitively that’s not the point of praising God in the first place, and even more, doesn’t God know all the greatest things about himself anyway? What’s the point of telling God how great he is?
Well, at the very least, the point is it puts everything that we ask for into perspective. If God is that great, and we truly believe it perfect in every way, good beyond all our comprehension, if we have a Heavenly Father who loves us and an unshakable relationship with the creator of the universe that cannot be taken away from us, then it really puts that parking spot that we’re asking for into perspective, doesn’t it? Now, my grandma would want me to tell you, go ahead and ask for that parking spot, by all means name it and claim it, but you get what I’m saying, when we see just how great our God truly is, things like a parking spot, that’s small potatoes at the end of the day.
So there’s a brief recap: “Our Father in Heaven, Hallowed Be Your Name.”
Now, for our section today: “Your Kingdom Come, Your Will Be Done, On Earth as it is in Heaven.”
What is it exactly that we’re asking for, hoping for, praying for in this part of the prayer?
Let’s start with middle part of the prayer: “Your Will Be Done.” In many ways, we often interpret this idea of “Your Will Be Done,” as “God, whatever it is that happens in my life, whether I like it or not, whether I’m excited about it or not, that must be your will, that must be your doing, and I just need to accept it, embrace it and roll with it.”
So for example, we think to ourselves, “You know God, I really was hoping for a baby girl rather than a baby boy, but you know Lord, you know what’s best, Lord, Your Will Be Done.”
Or we think to ourselves, “You know God, I really thought that person was the one for me, but then they broke up with me, but you know Lord, I trust you, Lord, Your Will Be Done.”
Or we think to ourselves, “You know God, I really wanted that job, I thought I had such a good interview, how could they not have chosen me for the job, but oh well, God, I know you are in control of all things, you’ll open up a new door, Lord, your will be done.”
Now all of those things are good prayers to pray, to pray, even and especially in the midst of disappointment, “Lord, your will be done,” but yet, but yet, that is not the main idea of this part of the prayer.
You see, when Jesus calls us to pray “Your will be done,” it’s not meant primarily to be a prayer of resignation, where we think to ourselves, gosh darn it, things aren’t going my way, oh well, “Lord, your will be done,” but rather a prayer of joyful expectation.
Not a prayer of resignation, but rather one of expectation. And here’s how we know this –
Look at the phrase that comes immediately after it,
“Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Do you see the connection? The prayer is that what’s true in heaven, would be true here on earth, right here, right now.
The prayer is that each and every day earth would look more and more like heaven.
One way to think about heaven and earth is to think of it as God’s space and our space. Heaven is God’s space, where God’s will and purposes for humanity are fully realized and Earth is our space, where our will and purposes for humanity are fully realized.
And in so many ways, the story of the bible is about the reunion of heaven and earth.
“In the beginning, God created the heavens & the earth.” Adam and Eve dwelt in the garden with God and had perfect communion with God. Heaven and earth, God’s space and our space, were perfectly overlapped.
Adam and Eve sinned and rebelled against God, they wanted to exert their will over and against God, and so Adam and Eve were banished from the garden. Heaven and earth were now separate spaces.
But then years later, Jesus, in his very first sermon, makes this bold claim, where he says, “Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” What is he doing? You see, it’s God himself, come down to bring heaven down to earth. See how these phrases of the Lord’s Prayer are thematically tied together? When we pray, “Your kingdom come,” We’re praying for heaven to come down!
And then by the time we get to Acts 2 and the birth of the early church, we read this, “A sound came from heaven … they were filled with the Holy Spirit.” Which means everywhere you go you are meant to go out into the world filled with Holy Spirit with the God given mandate of partnering with Jesus to bring heaven on earth. You and I are called to give people a taste of what heaven is like.
Until that one day, in Revelation 21 where it says behold … A new heaven & a new earth. Heaven and earth fully reunited. One and the same.
You see, the union of heaven & earth is what the bible is all about!!
Now, if this is sounding like a sermon I’ve already given, you’d be right, so much of what we’re talking about is similar to a sermon I gave from a sermon last December, but friends I can’t help myself, that’s what this part of the Lord’s prayer is all about!
“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
So here’s what this all means …
When we see a loved one dying of cancer, or a kid whose parents have divorced, or homes destroyed by hurricanes, we don’t pray “Lord, your will be done,” in the sense of “Okay, God, I guess this is what you want for this person” because of course it’s not what God wants, after all, cancer and divorce and hurricanes break the heart of God.
Rather, when we see these kinds of things, we pray, “Lord, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” we’re praying, “Lord, I know this isn’t what you want, I know this breaks your heart, Lord, I know that heaven is nothing like this, I know that in heaven stuff like this never happens, so I pray that you would bring heaven down to earth, right here, right now.”
After all, heaven is a place of absolute perfection. It’s a place of flourishing for all – physically, socially, emotionally, relationally, spiritually. It’s a place where every wrong has been made right. It’s life as it was meant to be. Where there’s no more disease, no more suffering, no more pain. A place that is full of joy and hope and laughter and contentment. If that sounds a little vague, let me try and put a little more skin on this one …
Heaven is a place where there are no alarm clocks.
Heaven is a place where you always know the exact location of every item at the grocery store.
Heaven is a place where each morning and night there are perfect sunrises and sunsets, where you never get burnt in the summer, or where your car won’t start in the winter, where there are no more earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes or floods.
Heaven is a place where little kids never have to learn how to duck and cover at their elementary schools because why oh why for heaven’s sake would there ever be a need for that.
Heaven is a place where everyone has a home to go to over the holidays.
Heaven is a place where you can work a full day and get paid a living wage.
Heaven is a place where you never forget the name of the person you’ve already met three times and it’s a place where everybody knows your name.
Heaven is a place where there is no more guilt or shame.
Heaven is a place where people see obeying God not as a burden or duty, but as a joy.
Heaven is a place where there is perfect communion with God.
Heaven is life with God and one another as it was always meant to be.
“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Now, this all begs the question, you might be wondering, “Yeah, this all sounds great, but what do I do in the meantime? Am I just a passive observer, simply running out the clock, just praying this prayer over and over again until I’m blue in the face?
Well, of course not. As you’d imagine, we have a role in this as well. This isn’t simply a prayer that we pray, but one that we embody, one that we live out as well.
Because, if we’re praying for God’s Kingdom come, then we’re acknowledging that belong to and serve a King who reigns on high. So what is a Christian? A Christian is a servant of the King who represents a different Kingdom, the Kingdom of heaven. You and I are servants of the King partnering with Jesus to bring heaven down to earth, given people a taste of what heaven is like right here, right now wherever it is that you live, work, play or learn.
So how do we do that? What does that look like? Well, of course, there are hundreds of things we could say here, but let me try and name a few …
When you extend forgiveness to your spouse or your kids or your friends, even when they don’t deserve it, you are bringing heaven down to earth because that what our Heavenly Father did for you and me.
When you deliver a healthy baby, when you bring healing to a patient, help them regain their mobility, a new shoulder or knee or kidney, you are bringing heaven on earth.
When you help someone get out of debt and find financial freedom, heaven on earth.
When you help a student figure out what their passionate about, or help a student be the first in their family go to college, heaven on earth.
When you design or build buildings or spaces or homes that are beautiful, that create gathering spaces for people, heaven on earth.
When you work with your hands, and till the soil and plant crops, when you steward the land, your crops, your animals well, when you treat your laborers with dignity and respect, you are bringing heaven down to earth.
You and I are servants of the King, partnering with King Jesus bringing heaven down to earth, showing people what heaven is like.
When we traveled to Bend for Callie’s brother’s wedding we had the opportunity to visit Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch. The Rice’s had told us about it and encouraged us to check it out while we were there. (I have to be honest, I didn’t really want to go)
The ranch was started by a woman named Kim and her husband, Troy. Kim had lost both parents at a young age to a murder/suicide, but she credits her survival and salvation to God, whom she met on the back of a horse.
In 1993, Kim and Troy purchased the only piece of land in Central Oregon that they could afford: a 9-acre, abandoned cinder mine. The land was so completely ruined that no one else wanted it. For 2 years, they spread moldy hay, stall shavings and manure over the rocky land to help create a base that would once again support life. Troy brought home broken and discarded trees and in 1995, Kim brought home the first two broken and discarded horses. One had been starved close to death and the other had been beaten so badly that a vet was needed to suture her beautiful face. Troy, as a youth pastor, often had kids over to their home and as these children began caring for the broken and discarded horses, healing began. Both horse and child were being transformed.
On one miraculous day, one of the most hurting children, a mute, began speaking freely to a mare. This sparked the idea for the ranch – a place of redemption for children, horses and the land. Children are referred to the ranch through social services, therapists, the juvenile justice system and friends/family who know that they are hurting. Horses are rescued from dismal situations. And the two are brought together to transform and heal the other.
Friends, what are Kim and Troy doing as they help bring healing to the land, horses and at risk youth? Well, of course, they’re partnering with Jesus in bringing heaven down to earth.
You and I are servants of the King, partnering with King Jesus bringing heaven down to earth, showing people what heaven is like as together we pray,
“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
I’ll finish with this, and that is with the scripture Carol read for us this morning. It’s the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane, it’s Thursday night, the night before Jesus will die on the cross. And Jesus is praying to the Father, asking “Father, if there’s any other way out of this, if there’s any way that I don’t have to die a bloody and gruesome death, if there’s any way, please show me that way, but if not … “Your will be done.”
If this is how it has to be, then in obedient submission, that is what I’ll do. I’ll die a bloody and gruesome death on a cross. If that is how it has to be, then “Father, Your Will Be Done.”
You see Jesus, prays a prayer of resignation, “Your will be done,” so that you and I can pray a prayer of joyful expectation, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
The only way we can pray in joyful expectation that heaven will one day come down to earth is if Jesus willingly, obediently absorbed all of earth’s sin and evil upon himself. And that’s exactly what he did, going to the cross, defeating sin, death and the Devil himself, rising from the grave, it’s the first definitive sign of heaven coming down to earth. Sure, the battle is not over, but the victory is won, it’s only a matter of time, and you and I have the joy, and privilege, the God given mandate of partnering with Jesus in bringing heaven down to earth, pulling the future into the present, little by little, day after day, wherever it is that we live, work, play or learn.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.