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Third Petition Sermon

May 12, 2018

How’s your prayer life going?

A five-year old boy was being particularly loud and disruptive one hot Sunday morning during a church service in Southern Alabama.  His father grabbed him… and slung him under his arm… and headed for the back of the church.  No one in the congregation so much as raised an eyebrow.  That is until the child captured everyone's attention by crying out in, "Ya'll please pray for me now!"  Isn’t that a good picture of what our prayer life often becomes?  We wait until life’s troubles has us tucked under its arm… and then we cry out for help.

This morning we take a deeper look into our prayer lives using an amazing prayer neatly tucked into the Lord’s Prayer… “Your Will Be Done On Earth As It Is In Heaven.” 

The Third Petition:  Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

What does this mean? The good and gracious will of God is done even without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may be done among us also.

How is God’s will done? God’s will is done when He breaks and hinders every evil plan and purpose of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature, which do not want us to hallow God’s name or let His kingdom come; and when He strengthens and keeps us firm in His Word and faith until we die. This is His good and gracious will.

Here’s where we really struggle… isn’t it: “Thy will be done!”  We want to know what we’re not supposed to know.  And what we’re supposed to know that we shy away from.  We want this enormous faith to move mountains.  But full trust in God???  Not so much!  So we are being challenged this morning with making something difficult a priority in our lives, “YOUR will be done, O God not MINE.”

It been the refrain of humanity throughout the ages… “Gimmee…Gimmee…Gimmee!  I need… I need… I need… I want… I want… I want…"  We have come to think that there’s only one person in all the world that knows what’s best for me, and that’s me. In my own words, “There’s the right way, and a wrong way, and then… there’s MY WAY.

So I ask you, is this good for your prayer life??? 

We weren’t always this way.  When our first parents walked the primrose paths of that ancient Garden they truly wanted God’s will to be done.  Their will was perfectly in sync with God’s will.  A will established and kept in God’s love and grace.  But, then came sin.  “Don’t eat that fruit,” God said.  “Trust me, It’s not my will for you!”  But they went ahead and ate it anyway.  And, from that time on mankind’s will was no longer in sync with God’s will. 

You and I have inherited this rebellious nature.  Paul describes it this way in Romans 8:7 “The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.”  So, Jesus had to teach his disciples, and all of us, to pray for God’s will to be done in our lives!

Its not something we readily pray and do on our own.  It’s just not in our nature anymore.  Sometimes when I pray for God’s Will to be done, and not my own, it almost feels like someone is racking their fingers across a BLACKBOARD.  I know I really don’t want this!!!

I’ve read enough of the Bible to know how challenging God’s will can be.  It says, “Obey your parents in everything.”  It says, “Wives, submit to your husbands as the Church submits to Christ.”  It says, “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her.”  It says, “Be content with what you have, and don’t covet.”  It says, “Love your enemies.”  It says, “Avoid any form of sexual immorality.”  It says, “Forgive one another.”  These are just a few examples of God’s will for us.

The Scriptures are clear on this.

I don’t know about you, but I have come to realize that praying for God’s Will to be done means I have to change!!!  Praying like this means God has to come first in our lives!  Not easy!  But it is of first importance if you really want to get better at prayer.  Soren Kierkegaard said, “The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.” 

Prayer can be so counter intuitive.  You would think we should pray to get what we want.  But instead we need to pray for what God wants.  Why???  Because we are being “transformed”.  The Holy Spirit moves deep within us.  And the Holy Spirit works hard in our prayer life.  All so that we would know Christ, and him crucified and raised for us.  This one is a biggie.

Every Christian has an inner desire (because of the Holy Spirit’s work…) to be in sync with God’s will.  The Bible says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”  Through Jesus God has restored His image to us. 

So, now a war is raging.  The tension is real.  We still have our sinful nature clinging to us.  But we are also this new person the Holy Spirit has created.  Every time we pray “Your Will Be Done” it’s like we are calling out for reinforcements!  When a military leader prepares for war he wants to bring as much firepower as possible to the battle.  He would like not just to defeat the enemy but to end the war.  The stronger the forces the better.  The stronger our faith the better.  We don’t want to take any chances.  So, we pray “Your Will Be Done” asking God to reinforce our faith, so that we draw closer to complete trust in our good and loving Father in heaven.  We don’t want sin to have any chance.

That’s what we mean when we say “Your Will Be Done On Earth As It Is In Heaven.”  In heaven the angels, and all the Christians that have gone there before us joyfully fulfill God’s will at all times and in every way.  There is no sin in heaven.  SO we pray, “This is the way I want to do your will, Lord, as though I were already in heaven!!!”

So we can go to our Bibles and discover the will of God for our lives in the words there.   

However, not ALL THINGS are revealed.  I am talking about the “why” questions.  “Why do the little innocent ones die?”  “Why did I get this terrible disease?”  “Why do loved ones die?”  “Why didn’t I get that job?”  “Why didn’t I get that scholarship?”  “Why am I all alone?”  “Why, God, why?”  We call it God’s hidden will.  Not everything is revealed in the Bible.  Nor does God promise everything will be revealed.

I have a lab named Fudge.  Fudge has claws that grow like weeds.  So, I trim them.  There are several reasons why I do this, but mostly because untrimmed claws can be dangerous.  They can curl under and become very painful.   But, he doesn’t like having them trimmed.  Someone in the past must have once cut a claw too deep.  So now when I trim his claws he looks at me as if to ask, “Why are you doing this to me?”  I have tried to explain it to him.  But that’s silly.  This side of heaven Fudge will never understand.  What’s important is that I am His caring master.  I do what’s best for him.

We are children of a loving heavenly Father.  It’s not important that we understand everything.  What’s important is that He is our loving heavenly Father.  So, when we pray “Your will be done” we do so confidently.  It’s a prayer of faith, creating even more faith, “Lord, I don’t know what your will is for my future, I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. But I know that you love me. You proved it at the cross. So, whatever it is “Your will be done.”

We don’t have to worry about the future.  We don’t have to constantly second-guess what God is doing.  Whatever God’s will is it will be for the best.  This does not mean it will always be painless.  But, it always for the best.

Think of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.  What was his ultimate prayer?  His Father’s will that He go to the cross for us.  It was not painless, but it was for the ultimate good of our salvation.   

So, we pray this week God’s will be done.  Some of this prayer will be a challenge to do what is clearly spelled out for us in the Bible when it says, “Do this!  Or, “Don’t do that”  Or, “Be this kind of a person!”  But some of it isn’t.  And that is just fine.  We know it will be for the best.  So we pray, “Heavenly Father, Your will be done.” 

Third Petition Bullet Prayers:

  • “O Lord, I can’t change you, so please change me.”
  • “Father in heaven, I know you love me the way I am, but I pray; please don’t leave me this way.”
  • “O lord, help me with this test so that I may have a testimony.”
  • “O God, keep me in my Bible, so that I may keep you.”
  • “Heavenly Father, my troubles are big, but I know you are bigger.”
  • “Lord, turn me from sin before sin turns me.”
  • “O Lord Jesus, let your light be the light that enlightens my way.”
  • Serenity Prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
  • Wall Hanger: “Lord, may I live one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships all the time; trusting You time and time again; that in this time I may have peace, and in the eternal time to come be supremely happy with You.” 


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