‘Your will be done’

Prayer can be powerful.

The prayer which starts “Our Father in Heaven” is famous. It is known as “the Lord’s prayer”, because Jesus taught it to his disciples. It contains the request “Your will be done”.

God’s will is done by angels in heaven. They never displease Him. So this begs the question. Is God’s will done here on earth?

God is all-powerful and nothing can ever thwart His plans. He oversees what is happening; He can and does control world events. If God decrees that something must happen then it does happen. So at one level His will is done.

Nonetheless despite this, and in a way that we cannot begin to fully grasp, we do have free will to make decisions and life choices. We are not programmed robots. We can influence our destiny. And so we can also mess up, and we have messed up in a big way. Consequently, here on earth it is very different from heaven: there is injustice and ungodliness. God is not pleased with the way we are. We do not do His will.

So why did Jesus tell his disciples to pray in this way?

This unhappy state of affairs will not last for ever. God has a plan for the earth. And when this comes to fruition the change will be radical: the most life-changing event ever. This is the establishment of God’s kingdom here on earth. And so in the prayer the disciples were told to pray for that.

Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth

 Luke 11:2

The two ideas are linked inextricably. The one cannot happen without the other. And neither of these things has happened fully yet.

There is another petition in the prayer:

And forgive us our sins

Luke 11:4

‘Sin’ is an old-fashioned and unpalatable word. It is the basic, fundamental problem with us and with our world. But God offers to forgive us and promises a time when sin and death itself will be abolished. Then the earth will be full of His glory, and His will done on earth.

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain. For the former things have passed away  

Revelation 21:4

If we want to live for ever in this amazing world we need to respond now. While we cannot attain perfection in this life we can try to do God’s will. And if we do this then God will forgive our sins, and give us eternal life to obey Him for ever, as angels do now.

The Future of the Earth

Prince William, in conjunction with Sir David Attenborough, is launching the Earthshot prize. This aims to be the Nobel Prize for the Environment: harnessing optimism and urgency to find solutions to the world’s greatest environmental problems. There is now huge, and increasingly widespread, concern for the future of this planet, and how it will be for our children and grandchildren.

Every one of has, to some degree, contributed to the problems we face. God gave us responsibility to look after His creation.

What is man that You are mindful of him, …You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands

Psalm 6:4 ,6

We have failed.

But God does have a long-term purpose with this earth which He created:

For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens, who is God, who formed the earth and made it, who has established it, who did not create it in vain, who formed it to be inhabited: “I am the Lord, and there is no other”

Isaiah 45:18

While in no way absolving us from our responsibilities, this can give us a different perspective, and so comfort and real hope. God’s plan cannot be thwarted by anyone or anything. The plan is for the earth to be changed to idyllic conditions full of His glory, with Jesus ruling as king. The angel Gabriel promised Jesus’ mother that he would:

…reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end

Luke 1:33

So the planet’s destiny is not entirely in our hands. Even though He may not be pleased with the mess we have made, God is still in control. Things will not just continue on a path to disaster (2 Peter 3:4). We may have limited power over the planet but we certainly have life choices affecting us and our children.

God has commanded us to ‘repent’ and to submit our lives to Him for whom ‘all things are possible’. He offers us eternal life in a transformed world. This is a solution infinitely more effective and awesome than anything we could ever imagine. It solves not only the problems of our planet, but also all the problems of human nature, including death itself. The Bible describes this as a ‘prize’: a priceless prize. There is, therefore, a personal urgency to respond to God. And there can be true optimism and hope if we do this with sincere enthusiasm and commitment.

Image by Bela Geletneky from Pixabay

A Stitch in Time….

Last week, following a seemingly puzzling quote by the prime minister, lots of people Googled the meaning of the old proverb “A stitch in time saves nine”. It actually means that a bit of effort early on at the start of a problem prevents a lot of effort later on when things have deteriorated. Anyone who has tried to mend a ladder in tights or a tear in the leg of a child’s pair of trousers will appreciate the wisdom of the proverb. There are many such sayings which capture wisdom succinctly in a word picture. But, of course, if they aren’t familiar or understandable then they don’t convey the message!

Jesus often used word pictures to preach his messages. One of those was also about mending clothes.

“No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; or else the new piece pulls away from the old, and the tear is made worse”

Mark 2:21

Of course, this is true. But Jesus was not talking about sewing. His disciples had just come under criticism for not following the pious customs of the religious leaders of the day. In particular they did not practice fasting, which was a ritual sign of unhappiness. Before his quote about the patch, Jesus asked:

“Can the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast”

Mark 2:19

Jesus’ disciples were happy that Jesus was there, and so did not fast. They had recognized who he was – the promised Messiah. The religious leaders did not acknowledge Jesus in this way, and so carried on with their traditions, many of which Jesus said were false religion. So Jesus’ words contained a warning. He also meant that following him was not just a matter of making small modifications to old customs. That would be like sewing pieces of new cloth onto old garments. It would not work: it was not what God wanted. Jesus asked his disciples, then and now, to listen to him and to try to do what he said. This requires accepting new priorities in life, and giving up old habits and practices even if they have been important to us.

In this life things can go from bad to worse, much worse. Reading the Bible is far more important than a ‘stitch in time’. It can give us true meaning to our lives now and amazing hope for the future.

Abstract photo created by Racool_studio – www.freepik.com