"Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."
"Epic" is a word that I have over-used. A word that I have used to describe a tasty meal – that burger was “epic.” A word that I have used to describe an incredible goal in soccer – that was an “epic” shot. But not a word I have used for prayer much, if at all.
But in preparing my reflections on this part of the Lord’s prayer, in our go-slow series of reflections on Jesus’ teaching here, I have discovered that we are dealing with an epic prayer.
And no part of this way to pray that Jesus gives us in Matthew 6 is more epic than this portion we are focussed on today:
“Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” [Matthew 6:10]
(Note - You can catch up on the series by clicking here, and you’ll get all the posts listed)
This portion of the Lord’s prayer quoted above is an epic prayer. This is a prayer that captures the heart of what it is to be a Christian. Because it is the heart of what Jesus came to bring about both in and through Himself.
Jesus embodied this prayer, in His life, death, and resurrection:
In describing how he lived his life, Jesus explained: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed.” (John 5:19–20)
In wrestling with confronting his pending death by crucifixion, Jesus prayed: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39)
And just before rising into heaven to lead us, His church, from the right hand of the Father, he told us: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” [Matthew 28:18-20]
In short, Jesus lived out the God His Father’s will on a daily basis, was prepared to lay down His life to do this, and having done so, carries all authority in Heaven and on Earth now to empower us to go and do likewise.
Jesus demonstrated, at just the right time in human history, that His life is what life is meant to be like - for us, and for the whole Creation. Humans, fulfilling their proper role, under God’s rule, in God’s good world.
And so, “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”, is meant to increasingly become the most natural prayer for you and I to pray. That we together, as God’s people, would increasingly look to the world around us just like Jesus did – as He literally walked the Earth over 2000 years ago.
A little more info, please?
Right now, though, some of us might be thinking – but what exactly does this look like? Having received some great help from N T Wright on all of this (watch some great teaching here), I can do no better than to point us to read, and pray, Psalm 72, in conjunction with this portion of the Lord’s prayer.
This is a Messianic Psalm (a Psalm that anticipates the calling and work of the Great Saviour of all mankind who was revealed to be Jesus Christ of Nazareth). In this Psalm, we read of everything that Jesus came and did, everything that He continues to do by His Spirit and through His body the church, and everything He will finish when He returns to Judge the World and usher in the New Heavens and the New Earth in completeness.
To give you a summarised list from Psalm 72 of some of the things expected to be brought on by the Messiah:
Judgement in Righteousness (a standard which is universally true and right).
Prosperity to the people.
Defence of the afflicted.
Salvation for the children of the needy.
Crushing of the oppressor.
An enduring Kingship.
Causing the righteous (those who worship and follow Him) to flourish.
Rule from sea to sea.
All nations coming to Him and serving Him.
Deliverance for the needy and the afflicted who have no one to help.
Pity for the weak and needy.
Rescue of those oppressed and experiencing violence.
His name enduring forever.
All nations blessed through him.
The whole Earth filled with His glory.
Here’s where things become epic. If you read through the Gospels, you see that Jesus embodied this Psalm 72 prayer of expectation. Even more, you hear Jesus (as quoted above) telling us, "this is what you are to continue, in my name."
So, as we prayer, “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”, we are praying:
“Do everything that is written in this Psalm, Lord. Do it now, as you have been since your came on Earth to begin setting this right. And Lord Jesus, increase this work to cover the whole world. Finally Lord, work in me and through me such that I can play my part, with your people, for your glory."
The beautiful (and epic) truth in all of this is – this is the work that Jesus is doing, right here, right now. In our city, and in our nation, as in all the nations of the Earth. Even as we battle this global virus.
Let’s Pray Church!
The one with all authority in Heaven and on Earth is at work in us right now, and through us right now. So let’s get praying, and let’s work out, together, how Jesus wants us to play our part in being part of fulfilling His epic plan for the world, expressed so eloquently in Psalm 72, in our community, in our city, and in the nations, even now, in the midst of lockdown and this global pandemic.
Working this out with you in prayer this week.
Written by Ps. Rob.