Pray then like this . . . “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” – Matthew 6:9-10
Why pray “your will be done,” if God is going to accomplish his will regardless of whether or not we pray? God works all things “according to the counsel of his will” (Eph. 1:11), indeed his counsel “will stand” and he will accomplish “all [his] purpose(s)” (Isa. 46:10).
First it should be noted that Jesus doesn’t say (in v. 9) “pray this prayer,” rather Jesus says, when you pray, “pray then like this.” In other words, the Lord’s prayer is not a prayer that we should pray but a model of how we should pray. In fact, I think it is the prayer of the disciple. Disciples pray that God’s name would be regarded as holy and that his kingdom would be fully realized here on earth as it presently is in heaven. The Lord’s prayer is the heart cry of the disciple of Jesus–those who are members of the kingdom Christ has brought to earth.
I think understanding Matthew’s emphasis on the kingdom helps to clarify why we must pray in this way. We must pray this way because Jesus has brought the kingdom of God to earth and he promises to return to consummate it.
This prayer is a longing for God to fulfill his kingdom purposes on earth as they are fulfilled in heaven. The question to ask yourself is–do I long for Christ’s kingdom purposes to come to fulfillment on earth? Do I long for Christ’s return? Do I long to be a part of seeing God’s kingdom promises to fulfillment?
Of course we know that God will accomplish all his purposes irrespective of whether we pray this prayer. That fact is perhaps what makes this prayer so amazing. God will accomplish his will with or without us and yet Jesus tells us to pray “your kingdom come, your will be done.” In other words, you and I are not needed to fulfill God’s kingdom purposes and yet God has deemed to use us in the establishment of his kingdom. This is pure, unmerited grace.
So how can we be a part of seeing Jesus’ kingdom purposes come to fulfillment on earth? Here are a handful of suggestions:
- Seek to live out the Kingdom ethics of the Sermon on the Mount (i.e. love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, speak the truth, and do whatever it takes to fight sin).
- Preach/share the gospel (Rom. 10:14-15), God could announce the gospel audibly from the heavens down to earth but he won’t. God has chosen to use us as his means of proclaiming the gospel and through the proclamation of the gospel God is calling a people to himself!
- Pray. Submit yourself to the Lord’s perfect will, acknowledge that he is better (Matt. 6:19-21). In other words stop trying to build your kingdom and submit to the joy of sharing in Christ’s kingdom.