Finny Jacob Former journalist and political analyst who worked in a major Indian newspaper and later at the U.S. diplomatic mission in India. Currently he works in the field of Bible Translation and writes and teaches on Christian themes
“…Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matt. 6:10)
This, probably, is the most profound statement in the Lord’s prayer. In this short sentence is captured the supreme, overriding, purpose of Christ and the eternal, overarching, purpose of God.
Elsewhere in the scripture we read that “the mystery of His will” “which he purposed in Christ” is “to bring all things in heaven and on earth together”. (Eph.1:9)
In His mission redemption, Christ opted to do His Father’s will. In the conflict at Gethsemane He found in him a perfectly human self preserving will and a perfectly divine self giving will. He also found His own supreme overriding will and prayed: “not my will but thine be done”.
Bringing these two thoughts together will take us to the conclusion that the statement in the Lord’s prayer is at once a yearning for the perfect human world under the Lord’s supreme command and control, and also a personal commitment, a submission, to do the perfect will of God.
Yearning for the Perfect World
Every human outrage, disappointment, sadness, frustration, and rebellion, is in fact a reflection of our perception of the perfect world. This is not right, we feel. This is not the way it should be. There is something terribly wrong. You are wrong. They are wrong. The world is not fair. This is not just. The authorities are wrong. The government is wrong. Is there a God at all? If there is, why are things not fair? That is how our thinking goes.
In the communist’s yearning for social equality, in the ecologist’s anguish for the planet earth, in the feminist’s fight for sexual equality, in the conservative’s concern for deteriorating human values, in every tear that is shed in sympathy for struggling, suffering fellow humans, is this yearning for a perfect world.
Well, Christ’s prayer makes it clear to us that things are currently not as they ought to be. This is not heaven. You can’t make heaven on earth by looking at it in any special way and therefore philosophy cannot make it a heaven. There are fundamental things gone wrong with the world. The world needs a redeeming intervention of God. The world needs to be united to the perfect will of God.
That redemption could not be brought about by classic religion. “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced; burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. Then I said, Here I am. I have come – it is written about me in the scroll, I desire to do your will, O my God” (Psalm 40:6)
Thy kingdom come, the Lord taught us to pray, and the prayer for His will to be done on earth closely follows and closely parallels that prayer for the Kingdom of God. Intervene, Lord. Come and take control. Overthrow the powers that be. Rule our lives and our world.
This prayer is thus a universal prayer. In fact, it is a prayer in which, albeit silently, all nature joins in. “For the creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice but by the will of the one who subjected it in the hope that the creation itself will be liberated from the bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God” (Rom. 8:20)
The yearning for the Father’s will to be done — is a line of prayer which Jesus taught us to pray, which Jesus Himself prayed, and Jesus answered in Himself. He realized that He was the answer to this prayer. He realized He was the answer to the universal prayer for God’s intervention in this world.
Prayer for His will, A Commitment
When Jesus prayed this prayer, it meant a commitment on His part to do His Father’s will. “Then I said, Here I am. I have come …..I desire to do your will.”
In Hebrews we read (10:8-10) what that prayer meant to him. “And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
Commitment to the will of God meant tears, sweat and blood to Jesus Christ, the conflict at Gethsemane and the triumph of the cross. For Him the driver was “the joy set before him”.
Something profound happens when we join Jesus in this prayer. We, too, realize that the deep desire for the perfect world calls for a commitment to do the Father’s will. How can we pray something for the world what we cannot accomplish in ourselves? We realize that in us, too, in a small way, lies an answer to this prayer. In that sense it effectively becomes a prayer for the strength and wisdom to realize the will of God in our lives. It becomes a prayer to realize our part in God’s redemptive plan for the world.
As we join Christ in this prayer, we also join thousands upon thousands of saints who have yearned this yearning and prayed this prayer. It will be answered one day when the sons of God are revealed. “The seventh angel sounded his trumpet and there were loud voices in heaven which said: the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ and he will reign for ever and ever” (Rev: 11:15). Further on, the visionary sees a new heaven and a new earth. “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear…”