Thy Will be Done...
Jesus said of His relationship with His heavenly Father, "And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him." John 8:29
Nowhere was this heart made more manifest to us than in his obedience to the cross. He prayed intensely that there might be some other way to accomplish the Father's work, yet He prayed even more that God's will would be done. Matthew tells us, "And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.'" Matthew 26:39
Because Jesus was sinlessly obedient to God, even to the point of death, He was able to save us from our sins. He endured the cross, as Hebrews tells us, with a view of the joy set before Him -- that men and women might be saved from their sins and reconciled to God. He knew that obedience to God in this fallen world might be painful at times, but it always yields the harvest of heavenly love, peace, and joy.
When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, His petitioned God that His will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. This is an extension of His prayer for God's kingdom to come. After all, heaven is a place in which God's will is perfectly carried out. Don't we all long for heaven?
The misery of the world began with an act of disobedience to God. Since then, we have all sinned and have been sinned against. We have experienced in ourselves and in the world alarming tendancies such as pride, selfishness, irritability, impatience, rudeness, harshness, religious hypocrasy, doubt, blame-shifting, lust, impurity, coarseness, divisions in families and church and neighborhood, arguments, self-righteousness, harmful self-indulgence, addiction, indifference to the suffering of others, materialism, ingratitude, rebellion toward parents and other godly authority, divorce, abusive parenting, the desire to control others for selfish gain, wars, death both spiritual and physical, and all other manner of ills.
By contrast, righteousness, peace, and joy are found wherever there is whole-hearted obedience to the Lord. For example, a home in which all members were totally committed to the Lord's will would be characterized by thoughtfulness, kindness, mercy, love, humility, truthfulness, generosity, words that build up and do not tear down, respect for each family member, respect for parents and other godly authority, harmony, dependability, faithfulness to promises and vows, purity, lasting marriages, unity, self-control, the righteousness that comes through faith in Christ, concern for others, healthy parenting, gratitude, wholesome enjoyment of God's creation, a willingness to work out differences peacefully, honor for the aged, care for the young, wholesome productivity, and all the goodness of the fragrance of Christ. Extrapolate the blessings of such devotion to the Lord's will out to our church, our neighborhood, and our world, and you can imagine how radically different our world would be if the Lord's will were done here just as completely as in heaven.
It doesn't take a genious to realize that our sin-sick world desparately needs God's kingdom and His righteousness. Yet, a prayer for God's will to be done on earth as it is done in heaven starts in the most challenging of places -- with a request that God's will be done in our own individual life. We cannot honestly pray for others to do God's will without first surrending our will daily to the Lord's. As much as we know that God's will is always best, we need help in overcoming our temptations to fear, selfishness, pride and other things that might block our obedience.
In order to develop and maintain a whole-hearted devotion to the Lord's will, we must pray as Jesus did in the garden of Gethsemane. If He, who was without sin, needed to pray to gain strength for the cross, how much more should we depend on God's grace and mercy to help us do His will? This dependence on the Lord cannot simply be a one-time request or a formulaic statement; it must be our heart's beat. If we love our heavenly Father, we will desire more than anything to please Him and to do His will.
We simply do not have within ourselves what it takes to be fully committed to the Lord's will. We need His Spirit working within us. God blesses us by turning our hearts to Him and by teaching us His good ways. Our desire to please our beloved Father, coupled with our awareness of How much we need Him, should drive us to our knees in praise and petition.
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.