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Lebanon, Missouri
I am Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church (LC-MS) in Lebanon, MO for 12 years. I'm married to Cheryl and have been blessed with 5 children.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Lord's Prayer Part IV of VII

The Lord's Prayer

Learning the Heart and Mind of the Father

Part IV of VII

The second Commandment tells us that we should not take the name of the Lord in vain, but the command isn’t fulfilled simply by avoiding the improper use of His name. God invites us to call upon Him in prayer and in this way use His name properly. You see here that we have a good and kind heavenly Father who welcomes His children. And because of the name of Jesus we can call upon the Father without fear of wrath (Paul McCain, Concordia, Readers Ed., Large Catechism, p. 434.5).

Have you had the occasion where you have thought, “What’s the use?” Perhaps you have doubted everything you have tried to do including prayer. What’s the use? Why pray when God will do what He wants. Does He even hear me? What’s the sense?

And yet think of a child saying to his Father: “What good is it if I obey, whether I do or whether I don’t it makes no difference. What parent would accept that attitude? (Ibid, p. 435.8-9).

We should remember that our Father in heaven invites us to pray out of His goodness and mercy. Yet, there is more, He also commands us to pray (I Thessalonians 5:17, Matthew 5:44). Ironically this command is somewhat freeing. We need not fret our doubt asking, “what use is it” so as to determine whether to pray or not. As obedient children, we simply heed our Father. We pray, trust, and reach up to Him as He first reached down to us and brought us into the one Holy Christian Church through faith in Christ.

It is accord with the will of God that we pray in confidence and faith. It is this will that we plead might be accomplished in us when we pray the third petition of the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy will be done.” As to the will of God, many Christians have asked, “What is the will of God?” “What does God want me to do?” “What path should I take in getting a degree, what job should I take.”

When we speak about God’s will we should keep in mind that God’s will falls into two categories. There is the revealed will of God and His hidden will. Luther mentions that we cannot take a peek up into heaven and there understand all things that are hidden.

Now that would be nice. How wonderful it would be if each step we took only happened after we climbed up to heaven first but then there would be little room for walking in trust and faith. No, we cannot reveal the secret things of God’s council (Jaroslav Pelikan, Luther’s Works, vol 1, p. 14).

God’s revealed will is no mystery. Rather than chasing what we can’t know we need to be focused on what God has shown to us. His will is made known in the Ten Commandments. His highest will is made known in Jesus, that He desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (I Timothy 2:4).

When the LORD God gave His commandments He sent Moses. He was the great prophet and deliverer of the Old Testament, but he was still but a man. When God wanted to accomplish our salvation, He gave us His very own Son. His highest will is accomplished in Christ.

Thus we confess that He, “redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death and from the power of the devil. He did this not with gold or silver, but with His holy precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, so that I may be His own, live under Him in His kingdom…” (McCain, op. cit. p. 355).

Cyprian, the ancient Bishop of Carthage, wrote about God’s will this way, “Now the will of God is that which Christ both did and taught. Humility in conduct, constancy in faith, truth in speech, justice in deeds, mercy in words, restraint in self-discipline, knowing nothing of doing injury yet willing to endure slight, holding peace with the brothers, devoted whole heartedly to the Lord, loving him as Father, fearing Him as God, preferring nothing whatsoever to Christ because He preferred nothing to ourselves, clinging inseparably to His love, standing by the cross with courage and faith…” (John Behr, Tertullian, Cyprian, and Origen On The Lord’s Prayer, Popular Patrisitics Series, p.75 - 76).

What are some other reasons to pray, “Thy will be done,” other than the fact that Jesus teaches us to do this? Peter tells believers not to live in the lust of their flesh. You already did that before you were saved, he continues, when you indulged in sensuality, carousing, idolatry, and so forth.

Peter goes on. He says that your old buddies, and the world as a whole, when they see that you are not running with them in the old lifestyle, they are going to attack you and malign you (I Peter 4:1-7).

It is as Luther wrote. When we prayed, “Thy Kingdom Come” we prayed for our greatest need. This need is the Gospel, faith, and the Holy Spirit. When we pray “Thy Will be Done” this acts as a fortress of protection that we would not be lost to this kingdom (McCain, op. cit. p. 442.69).

The world and our own flesh are relentless pushing, pushing, pushing until we are worn out. If they are not pushing then they are enticing saying, “Come, go my broad pleasant way!”

Notice how God’s people are enticed by various desires. First the Christian hates this or that sin and agrees with God’s judgment. Then in the passion of a particular lust the Christian falls into that sin. Finally he ends up giving his heart to it. In the end the he rejoices and revels in what he once considered distasteful and sinful.

“Dear God save me from my will.” “Dear God keep me in Thy will that I might not be cajoled away from Thy kingdom.” If God’s will is lost in our lives then just as surely will God’s kingdom.
The third petition would draw our hearts in a different direction than the world and our flesh. When we pray “Thy will” we do so that God’s good will would be done in us. Indeed having “prayed that He [would] rule us, we pray that we may in everything be ruled by him” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Hendrickson Publishers, on Matthew 6:10). You see, having God as our heavenly Father, we actually do heed Him. What good is it to call Him father but then ignore His will?

In this petition we learn the heart and mind of the Heavenly Father. We have prayed for the kingdom to come to us by the unmerited grace of Christ. Now we pray that the Holy Spirit would work God’s will in our lives through His Word lest being saved we become lost because we followed another will other than God’s.What is God’s will for you? It is that the smile that He bestows upon you now in Christ might endure and open up to everlasting life.

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