Do Not Worry .. Matthew 6 25-34
Today we reflect on perhaps the hardest part of the Lord’s Prayer to really mean when we pray it – ‘thy will be done’. Why is that hard? Because, we live in a society that tells that we are always in control, where everything is possible for us, right here, right now. You only have to find out what makes you happy and then you must go and grab it with both hands and then you will be truly happy, nothing can be denied you. But, as we grow older and sometimes (not always!) wiser, we learn that material things do not bring happiness and not everything is possible.
Matt Haig, in one of the best recent depictions of the struggle against depression and anxiety sums up modern culture like this;
The world is increasingly designed to depress us. Happiness isn’t very good for the economy. If we were happy with what we had, why would we need more? How do you sell an anti-ageing moisturiser? You make someone worry about ageing. How do get people to vote for a political party? You make them worry about immigration. How do you get them to buy insurance? By making them worry about everything. How do you get them to have plastic surgery? By highlighting their physical flaws. How do you get them to watch a TV show? By making them worry about missing out. How do you get them to buy a new smartphone? By making them feel like they are being left behind. To be calm becomes a kind of revolutionary act. (Reasons to Stay Alive).
A revolutionary act. That is what is at the centre of this phrase in Matthew’s record of the Lord’s Prayer – an act that tells us not worry. Why? Because God is in control and not us – “thy will be done”. We just have to concentrate on God and then our worries will subside. That sounds easy, but it is not.
“Thy will be done” means letting God be in control of lives. These words are positioned in the Lord’s Prayer so that we place God at the centre and in control before we make our petitions of daily bread, forgiveness and protection. Sometimes our prayer life can be only a list of our hopes and desires that we entreat, or command, God to do under our directorship. This part of the Lord’s Prayer means sometimes having our prayers go unanswered (even the ones that seem so right). And sometimes it means dying to our dreams, knowing, however painful it is, that God is in control and still has good plans for us (even if we can’t see them).
Sometimes we all pray for really good things with really good hearts and that prayer does not get answered. God is silent. We don’t know why. Most of us have got on our knees and prayed with our hearts and soul for healing for someone we love, for the clock to be turned back. And to what seems our most important prayer– God is silent. We (the clergy) cannot point you to an explanation that has all the answers, for nobody can.
We can only point you to a person. We can only tell you at the heart of the Gospel is an unanswered prayer. Jesus kneeling in the garden prayed “Father if is it possible may this cup of suffering and pain be taken from me. Yet not my will, but yours be done.” This is the most desperate prayer every prayed, from the most discerning spirit that ever lived and from the purest heart that ever beat. A prayer that pleaded to be freed from the most unjust suffering ever known and … it was met with silence. The cup was not taken away. But from Jesus’ unjust, unwarranted suffering came the hope – the light of the world that remade human history. The ultimate answer to every human anguish, including every unanswered prayer, is a sin stained, blood soaked cross where God suffered. We don’t know why God sometimes says “No”. Every one of us knows the anguish of wanting a “Yes” but getting a “No”. We only know that God’s “No” on the cross to his only Son was turned into the greatest “Yes” of every human being that ever lived. Thy will be done…
As we share in the nationwide wave of prayer for evangelization, we focus our attention today on the area of Maidenbower to the north of Pallingham Drive up to Maidenbower Park (plus Bowater Road, Birchwood Close, Bassett Road and Stable Close) and east of Lucerne Drive (including Boleyn Close). The Brook School, where Steve is a governor, is within that area. Please pray for the school, for the Headteacher (Fi Dowley), for the staff and the current pressures they face, for the children and all their families.