John A. Braun
Our heavenly Father’s will does not change. He is not willing that any should perish, but he wants everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). He has a special concern for his believers. He always works everything out for the good of the people he has called to faith in Jesus (Romans 8:28).
In heaven, God’s will is done without opposition and without question. That means what he decides is accomplished, and the entire host of the angels and saints in heaven rejoice and praise him freely and without complaint.
Those in heaven know that God wants nothing but the best for his people. The believers there see that he has brought them safely through their struggles on earth. The angels witnessed God’s justice and love in expelling the rebel angels and confirming those who remained faithful. In heaven all is well; God’s will is unchallenged and perfect.
But on earth, the devil prowls among the living, seeking to devour souls (1 Peter 5:8). He has been at his tasks for a long time—ever since he was expelled from heaven. He knows how to thwart God’s will, how to pervert his Word, and how to distract the living with every imaginable temptation. The believers in heaven are safe, but the living on earth are still under attack. And it’s not just the devil that God’s people must contend with here on earth. The world and our sinful flesh also have become our enemies.
The church on earth often seems to be singled out for special attention from the devil. If he can rob the church of the gospel, so many souls will go into eternity without the grace of God. If he can use the world to intimidate the church or in other ways lead the church to proclaim false teaching, he also achieves his goal. It should not surprise us that Jesus asks us to pray that our heavenly Father’s will be done on earth as in heaven.
But Jesus not only gave us this prayer; he also prayed, “Not my will, but yours be done” in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:42). With that prayer on his lips, he shows us how to face the anguish and turmoil on earth. In his challenges, he wanted the assurance that his Father’s will would be done. He willingly submitted to the will of his heavenly Father.
So we have a clear lesson from Jesus. Our heavenly Father’s will is sure and certain. But we doubt and often are confused by what we face. When life doesn’t make sense to us, we wonder. When death and pain afflict us, our loved ones, and other Christians here, how is God’s will done? When persecution and disaster strike, we are confused about how this is God’s good and gracious will to protect his own and bring them home to heaven. When, like Jesus, we face difficult days or the church faces serious challenges, decisions, or hardship, we crave the assurance that our heavenly Father’s will be done.
It is at such times that we should pray, “Your will be done on earth as in heaven.” We don’t always understand God’s will while we are here on earth. We are tempted to abandon God when he allows so much trouble on earth. But God always knows what he is doing, even if we don’t know and wonder why. We are still in his hands and under his loving care. And in heaven, when we join the saints and angels, we will not wonder.
But for now on earth, we pray, “Your will be done.”
John Braun is executive editor of the Forward in Christ magazine.
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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 104, Number 11
Issue: November 2017
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