THE GOSPELS 47
ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN
I want to repeatedly emphasize the importance of giving serious attention to the words of this prayer which Jesus gave to His disciples. Unfortunately it has been so often used, like many other parts of our traditional worship service, as a habitual ritual with little thought and no meditation at all. We have memorized the words so they can be mindlessly repeated without any conscious effort at associating them with meaning, much less the reverence they should convey.
I grew up in Nashville, Tennessee. In this city there is an exact replica of the original Parthenon in Athens, Greece. Along with all other Nashvillians I often
passed this lovely building without paying any attention to the incredible beauty and majesty of the structure. One of my father’s favorite statements was, “Familiarity breeds contempt”. This is true of ideas as well as things and people. What we are too familiar with, we tend to take for granted and give no thought to.
This is what has happened to The Lord’s Prayer. We are so familiar with it that
it has completely lost any meaning to those who mindlessly drone the words and so miss the wonderful blessing it should bring to the one who utters these sacred words in sincerity and reverence.
Because Jesus used so few words in this model prayer, each one of these words has a special meaning. But the casual reader will miss it unless much time is spent in reverent meditation. “On earth as it is in Heaven”, spoken of the will of God, was not an incidental phrase used by the Lord to round out His thought. He was from Heaven Himself and knew what it was like. He had come to earth and endured the pain and suffering which alienation from God and His will had caused in Adam’s world. In His compassion for lost mankind, He is expressing
His deep desire that they might experience the joy and peace that ensues when the will of God is in control.
It is quite obvious that this physical world, in which pain and death are normal expectations, can never enjoy the serene perfection of Heaven. So, in this prayer, Jesus is expressing the desire that we might discover the liberty which comes as a result of divorcing ourselves from the worship of mammon and being enveloped in the spiritual realm of heaven through our faith in God and dedication to His will. The extent to which we recognize and obey the will of God is the extent to which we can experience the beauties of Heaven even here on earth.
This is another evidence that this prayer was only meant for, and should only be prayed by, true disciples of the Lord. They alone can know this wonderful blessing, for they alone strive to let the will of God govern their lives here on earth. It is also another evidence that the One speaking these words is the Son of God, for only such a One could know what the will of God is, and what it can do for those who follow it.