For most of my life I assumed that "on earth as it is in heaven" applied only to the last desire, that God's will would be done. But about a year ago it suddenly struck me: all three of these desires could be for the situation on earth.
This realisation was a major freedom for me. It gave me something to pray for about my work here on earth, such as my job, my shopping, my walking the moors, etc. - all of which are 'on earth'. I found myself praying:
"In my work, as I live and work amongst my colleagues,
may your holy Name be honoured (so they will think more highly of you),
may your kingdom come (so that they will come more under your rule),
may your will be done (so they will do what you intended them to)."
Similarly, when on the hills, when shopping.
This, I found, I could pray meaningfully. Before that, I could not pray meaningfully for my colleagues except that very general prayer that they would 'come to know Christ' - but, I admit, without much faith or expectation. But this threefold prayer seemed more direct and meaningful; I could believe more that indeed they might think more highly of God, that they would let him rule in their hearts a bit, and even that their behaviour would be as God intended. This seemed to be something that Jesus tells us to prayer, and something I could expect here on earth. I could expect to see a real change in people along any of these three lines, when I could not, in all honesty, expect to see them 'come to know Christ' in a single step.
But it goes further.
Think about the links between the three. For a person to do God's will (other than coincidentally) requires that they come under the rulership or sway of God, to submit to God, to God's authority. And to submit to God can occur for two reasons: because we 'ought' to do so, and because we genuinely want to do so. Guess which is the reason that God values! He does not value reluctant submission; he values our wanting to ("in spirit and in truth") - and to this end he changes our very wills if we let him. And we will want to submit to God if we think highly of him, if we hold him to be honourable.
So I can pray the first of the three as the beginning of a process, by which my colleagues will begin to submit to God in their hearts and then do his will. All of this is on earth, as in heaven.
Note the link between "May your holy Name be honoured - by my being among my colleagues" and my role as representing God to the rest of Creation, which includes my colleagues and other people.
(See also Prayer - a New View.)
Copyright (c) Andrew Basden 2010, but you may use this material subject to certain conditions.
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Created: 7 February 2006 Last updated: 10 July 2011 link to prayer.