Matthew 6:5-15 — Janis Joplin, Garth Brooks, Fantasy Island, and The Will of God on Earth As It Is In Heaven

Posted: October 17, 2015 in Gospel of Matthew, The Lord's Prayer

Matthew 6:5-15
Blueprint for Prayer (The Lord’s Prayer)

Have we ever really sat down and thought about the content of our prayers? How many “I” and “me” and “help me” we put in our prayers. Sounds kind of selfish when you think about it, doesn’t it? Yes, there is no doubt that God wants us to be personal with Him. He is a personal God. He knit us together in our mothers’ wombs. He knows every hair on our head. He knows us personally. However, when we pray, as we learned earlier in this visit to the Lord’s Prayer that we are on, we should understand the relationship. We are the children and He is the Father. We are to bring our personal needs to Him in prayer. He is our Daddy. He is our Abba Father. When thinking about this concept of “your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”, I am reminded of two songs from pop culture. The first is “Mercedes Benz” by Janis Joplin and then “Unanswered Prayers” by Garth Brooks. I think these two songs will help us understand what Jesus is talking about when He says, “Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”

First, when you consider the song, “Mercedes Benz” by Janis Joplin, it is a song that satirizes how we often treat our Father in heaven in prayer. We ask for things that are of a personal and selfish nature. Janis Joplin says, “Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz. All my friends drive Porsches. I must make amends!” The song is blatantly selfish to grab our attention and it certainly will make us think about what we are praying when we pray. We often treat God like he is our puppet or a vending machine. We pull the strings and God is supposed to do what we want. We push the button on the vending machine and out comes our desired response. Later in the song, Janis sings,

“Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a night on the town?
I’m counting on you, Lord, please don’t let me down.
Prove that you love me and buy the next round,
Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a night on the town?”

Man, those lyrics hit us square in the eye. I am counting on you Lord…don’t let me down. Prove that you love me. Prove to me that you love me, Lord. Wow. It is often an expectation that we have that if we pray it that it is proof of God’s love when He answers in exactly in the way that we desire. Prove to me that you love me, Lord. If you do this for me, I will believe. If you do this for me, I will obey you. If you do this for me, I will try harder. If you do this for me, I will be convinced and will do what you want, Lord. We have the relationship all wrong when we pray this way. We should not come to the Father demanding like an insolent child. We must remember that God is our Father. He is the ultimate authority figure in our lives. He is the Creator. We are the created. We must come to Him in all humility. We must approach Him as a child seeking favor from his father. We do not know best. He does.

That leads us to the second song. Garth Brooks had a huge hit in the 90s with the song, “Unanswered Prayers.” In that song, he says that “sometimes God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.” We sometimes pray to God as if we know what is best for our lives. We want this because this is what I want. I want this now. We come demanding our Mercedez Benz. We come demanding to have the homecoming queen. We think we know what we want and we want God to oblige us. There used to be a show back in the late 70s-early 80s called “Fantasy Island.” In that show, people came to the island to live out there long-desired dreams or fantasies. In almost every case, the episodes would teach a morality lesson that sometimes our dreams, our fantasies, have unintended or unforeseen side effects that spoil the dream. It was a lesson in appreciating what you have. Dreams can become nightmares. Garth Brooks thanked God that he did not get the homecoming queen because if he had, he would have never met the love of his life. The song was a thanksgiving of sorts for Garth’s character in the song for God not giving him what he wanted but rather giving him what he needed. We do not know best. God does. We are the created with limited scope. He is the Creator who sees the big picture. We must trust in Him that He does know what He is doing in our lives. We must come to Him seeking to know and understand what He wants from us and for us. Sometimes, we cannot see the consequences of the fantasies that we have for our lives. Just as kid who when allowed to eat all the sweets he desires ends up with severe stomach ache, we, too, think we want all the sweets but we do not see the consequences of indulging our fantasy island. We must trust God to know what is best just as we trust our earthly parents to know and understand what is best for us.

OK. So, we have established that we do not know what is best and that we sometimes selfishly pray for our desires to be met. And, we have established that what we want is not always what is best for us. Then, what is God’s will. This is what Jesus says we should be praying for? What is that exactly? Jesus is saying that our prayers should reflect that God’s perfect will exists in Heaven where everything is perfect and nothing is there to prevent His will from being carried out. In Heaven, his humble servant/saints do and act in perfect ways and through their humbly given servitude to God. Heaven is made a place of perfect godliness. Thus, in wishing that on earth, Jesus is saying that we should ask God to have His will on earth and not ours and those things are not in alignment with him are brought into alignment here on earth. We must pray in our prayers that God is in control of this thing. We must pray that His will, his perfection that we can’t begin to understand has its way. We must pray for what God wants. He sees the big picture. We do not. Then our prayers should not be so presumptious as to be about what we want, what our will is. They should most certainly be about what God wants.

Does this mean that we take a resigned attitude toward life and just take what comes? Does this mean that we do not pray bold prayers? Does that mean that when we pray for healing of a friend that we should qualify that by saying, “…but if it is not Your will…” No. I don’t think so. We are not resigning ourselves to whatever may come. When we pray for God’s will, we are praying that God’s perfect purpose will be accomplished both here on earth and in heaven. On earth, that will is accomplished when we obey Him. When we pray for His will to be done, we are offering ourselves up as a people willing to do his will. It is our purpose in life to do those things that bring glory to God.Therefore, when we pray unselfishly for a friend’s healing, we are praying for God’s glory to be shown in the world by a miraculous healing. When we pray, we should be considering how to give God glory through the end result that we are praying for. We should be praying for His glory to be shown in what we are praying for so that there is will be no doubt that it is was God’s doing. We should be praying for that which draws people unto God because there is no mistaking that it was Him who answered our prayers. Instead of demanding our own desired result, we should be praying for God’s glory to be shown in the answer to our prayers. That certainly will change our perspective when we pray. May Your will be done. And, it is God’s will that all people from all nations be drawn unto Himself and that He will be glorified. When we pray we should seek His guidance and leadership in accomplishing His purposes here on earth. So, with the right frame of mind as to what God’s will is, yes, let us pray bold prayers. Let us pray for miracles in our own lives and the lives of others. Let us pray boldly that the only explanation for the result of our prayers is God. Let us pray boldly that He will show up and show out. Let us pray boldly that when the result comes that people walk away scratching their heads because the only explanation is God. When that happens, people are drawn unto Him. Let us pray boldly for God’s glory to be unmistakable. This is God’s will. Let us keep that in mind and pray for it boldly!

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