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Learning His Will - Matthew 7, HCLD 49

A service plan from the Lord's Prayer focused on greater obedience and discipleship in the Christian life in a series on prayer as explained in the Heidelberg Catechism.

Worship Service

Theme of the Service

The central idea in this service is the prayer (and desire) of the Christian that his/her obedience to God may be patterned after that of the angels in heaven. It is, therefore, a cry and commitment to greater personal obedience and discipleship.


We suggest a number of resources that will be valuable tools for you in this study of the Lord's Prayer.

  • Each week we will provide references for you from the Heidelberg Catechism and both the Larger and the Shorter Westminster Catechism.
  • The website of the Center for Excellence in Preaching at Calvin Theological Seminary also provides sermon ideas for each Lord's Days.
  • Comfort and Joy: A Study of the Heidelberg Catechism, Andrew Kuyvenhoven, Grand Rapids: CRC Publications, 1988.
  • Our Only Comfort: A Comprehensive Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism (vol. 2), Fred Klooster, Grand Rapids: Faith Alive Christian Resources, 2001.

Catechism References:
Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 49
Westminster Larger Catechism, Q. 192
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q. 103

* * * * *


Prelude: "Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise" [seemusic notes]

Call to Worship

*Song of Praise: "Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise" CEL 33, PH 263, PsH 460, RL 7, RN 46, TH 38, TWC 62, UMH 103, WR 48

*Our Declaration of Trust and God's Greeting:
Congregation of Jesus Christ, where is your trust placed?
Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.
Grace, mercy and peace to you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

*Worshipers Greet Each Other

*Response: "Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow" CEL 166/814/815, PH 591/592, PsH 638, RL 556, RN 83, SFL 11, TH 731,732,733 TWC 808,809, UMH 94/95, WR 34/44/147


Anthem: "Thou Wilt Keep Him in Perfect Peace," Matthews [seemusic notes]

Call to Confession

Our Prayer of Confession [seeliturgy notes]

Assurance of God's Pardon

Song of Discipleship: "May the Mind of Christ, My Savior" CEL 568, PsH 291, RN 285, SFL 72, SWM 211, TH 644, TWC 560, WR 464

Children's Moment [seeliturgy notes]

Reading of God's Law [seeliturgy notes]


*Song of Preparation: "Teach Me, O Lord, Your Way of Truth" PsH 276, TH 149

Prayer for Illumination

Reading of Old Testament Scripture: Psalm 119:129-14

Reading of New Testament Scripture: Matthew 7:15-29
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Sermon: Learning His Will
Prayer Patterns 5

Sung Prayer of Application: "Have Thine Own Way, Lord" CEL 591, PsH 287, TH 688, TWC 584, UMH 382, WR 486 [seeliturgy notes]


Prayers of the People [seeliturgy notes]

*Song of Response: "Lord of Creation, to You Be All Praise" PsH 286

We offer our gifts for .
The offering of music: "He Leadeth Me" [see music notes]
or: "What God Ordains Is Always Right"


Our Sending Prayer [seeliturgy notes]

*Benediction with Congregational Amen!

*Song of Faith: "He Leadeth Me" CEL 690, PsH 452, RL 161, SWM 198, TH 600, TWC 635, UMH 128, WR 499

*A Moment of Meditation

Postlude: "Allegro Maestoso (with Trumpets and Horns)," Handel [seemusic notes]

*Please stand if you are able.

* * * * *

Sermon Notes

Henry Ward Beecher, a prominent preacher from another generation, once called this petition "the most revolutionary and fearful prayer in all the world." Can you imagine how families and marriages would change, how society and the nations would function, how churches, schools, and communities would be different in so many ways if God's will were done here as perfectly as it is in done in heaven?

The recipe for composing this sermon should include ingredients that come from several subjects all brought together:

  • The four dimensions of the human will (our "decision-making apparatus" within): our dead will because of our innate corruption; our born-again will enlivened by the Holy Spirit and able to make choices to serve and love God and others; our struggling will working against the influence and attraction of sin (see Romans 7); and our glorified will perfected when we arrive in glory.
  • Our view of the circumstances in heaven: Heaven is not a place of total rest but of active obedience as the Trinity carries out the plan established for the church and the world and the angels and saints serve God perfectly (Psalm 103:20-21).
  • The models for our obedience: Human models serve us well in many ways (parents, leaders, friends, etc.), but this petition calls us to look to the angels and saints as those who model obedience best.
  • The several dimensions of the will of God: God's will includes his plan for the cosmos he has made and set in motion, only some of which becomes apparent to us. It also includes direction for our lives, of which we usually become more aware in retrospect. Still more of his will is expressed in moral and ethical precepts expressed in his moral law and the ethical passages of Scripture. This petition of the prayer is primarily concerned about this latter dimension of the will of God. Therefore, it's a matter of obedience to the revealed will of God as we come to know it through Scripture.

The Catechism statement, though brief, points to several very helpful insights to understand this petition:

  • Obeying God usually involves surrender, i.e. "rejecting our own wills."
  • It also involves acknowledgement that God's will alone is "good.
  • Our spirits often obey reluctantly. Since reluctant obedience is inferior obedience, we call ourselves to obey "without any back talk."
  • And we pray this prayer as a member of a community, not as an individual. The phrase "and all men" immediately puts the corporate arms around this call to obedience.

The setting of Christ's instructions in the Sermon on the Mount raises this matter above that of human ethical persuasion and puts it in the context of a righteousness that we live because we are children of faith. The "telos" of the sermon is found in Matthew 5:20 in which Jesus calls his followers to the higher righteousness of the kingdom. He explains that good trees are known by good fruit (7:15-20). Bad trees are subject to judgment (7:19), and on the judgment day many will be surprised (7:21-23). He illustrates these truths with a story (7:24-27), which gives us a deeper understanding of the statement in v.21.

The petition we look at today is a huge prayer to pray! Muse for a little while on the difference it might make in your life, your congregation, your community, and the world at large!

Music Notes:

Glossary of Hymnal Abbreviations:
CEL Celebration Hymnal (Word Music/Integrity Music)
PH The Presbyterian Hymnal (Presbyterian Church USA; Westminster/John Knox Press)
PsH The Psalter Hymnal (Christian Reformed Church; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
RL Rejoice in the Lord (Reformed Church in America; W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)
RN Renew! (Hope Publishing Company)
SFL Songs for LiFE (children's songbook; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
SNC Sing! A New Creation (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Christian Reformed Church,
Reformed Church in America; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
SWM Sing With Me (children's songbook; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
TH Trinity Hymnal (Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America; Great
Commission Publications)
TWC The Worshiping Church (Hope Publishing Company)
UMH The United Methodist Hymnal (United Methodist Publishing House)
WOV With One Voice (Augsburg Fortress)
WR Worship & Rejoice (Hope Publishing Company)

You may wish to include the singing of the Lord's Prayer throughout this series of services. Here are some suggested settings that could be used congregationally:

GREGORIAN [The Lord's Prayer (UMH 270)
LANGDON [The Lord's Prayer] (PsH 207)
MALOTTE [The Lord's Prayer] (RN 177)
MELITA [The Lord's Prayer] (TH 725)
ST. MICHAEL [Our Heav'nly Father] (RL 262)
VATER UNSER [Our Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth] (PsH 208)
VATER UNSER [Our Father, Clothed with Majesty] (PsH 562)
Our Father in Heaven (PH 571)
Our Father in Heaven (SNC 196)
The Lord's Prayer/Our Father (SWM 174)

Suggestions for prelude and alternative harmonizations for the opening hymn can be found in these resources:

ST. DENIO ["Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise"]

Thomas, David Evan. Augsburg Organ Library - Autumn. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7579-7
[2003] (M)
Carlson, J. Bert. (1995) Augsburg Organ Library - Epiphany. Augsburg 11-11073 [2001]
Burkhardt, Michael. Praise and Thanksgiving, set 3. Morningstar MSM-10-753 [1990]
Burkhardt, Michael. Six General Hymn Improvisations, set 2. Morningstar MSM-10-534
[1999] (E-M)
Haan, Raymond H. Welsh Hymn Tune Preludes. SMP KK426 [1989] (E-M)
Held, Wilbur. Those Wonderful Welsh, set 2. Morningstar MSM-10-842 [1992] (E-M)
Willams, Ronald R. Three Hymn Tunes from the British Isles. Shawnee HF-24 [1967]

Carter, John. Favorite Hymns for Piano. Hope 8823 [2007] (E-M)

Wagner, Douglas E. Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise. Agape 1238 [1986] (3 octaves,

Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
Goode, Jack C. Thirty-four Changes on Hymn Tunes. H W Grey GB 644 [1978]
Wood, Dale. New Settings of Twenty Well-Known Hymn Tunes. Augsburg 11-9292

Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
Helvey, Howard. Let It Rip! At the Piano, vol. 2. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7580-0 [2003]

The anthem "Thou Wilt Keep Him in Perfect Peace" by H. Alexander Matthews is published by Presser 312-20502 [1925] and scored for SATB voices with opt. keyboard (E-M).

Resources for offertory music can be found in the following:


Callahan, Charles. Partita on He Leadeth Me. Morningstar MSM -10-571 [2005] (E-D)
Cherwien, David. Interpretations, bk. 9. AMSI SP-106 [1992] (E-M)
Goode, Jack. Seven Communion Meditations. Flammer HF-5084 [1976] (E-M)
Spong, Jon. Partita on "He Leadeth Me. " Egan [1991] (E-M)
Young, Gordon. Eight Voluntaries. Presser 413-41034-30 [1961]

Dobrinski, Cynthia. He Leadeth Me. Agape 1461 [1991] (3-5 octaves, M)

WAS GOTT TUT ["What God Ordains Is Always Right"]

Albrecht, Timothy. Grace Notes X. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 0-8006-7561-4 [2002] (E-M)
Burkhardt, Michael. Six General Hymn Improvisations, set 1. Morningstar MSM-10-846
[1992] (M)
Carlson, J. Bert. A New Look at the Old. Augsburg 11-11009 [1999] (E-M)
Cherwien, David. Interpretations, bk. 7. AMSI SP-104 [1988] (M)
Marpurg, Friedrich Wilhelm. Twenty-one Chorale Preludes. Augsburg 11-9506 [1967] (E-M)
Pachelbel, Johann. Selected Organ Works, vol. 4. Barenreiter 1016 (E-M)

Alternative harmonization on the closing hymn can be found as follows:


Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
Hassell, Michael. Let It Rip! At the Piano. Augsburg 11-11045 [2000]

The organ postlude "Allegro Maestoso (with Trumpets and Horns)" by G. F. Handel can be found in Suite from Water Music published by Fischer F.E.S. 5753 [1954] (E-M).

Liturgy Notes

1. The anthem of the choir or choral group presents clear ideas of how God desires that we live. For the prayer of confession, we suggest that you use several ideas from this anthem as petitions in the prayer of confession. Our confession, then, is that we have not lived this week as we have been called to in this anthem.

2. The Children's Moment, located between the assurance of pardon and the reading of God's law, is an excellent time to speak to the children about why God gave the Ten Commandments to the Israelites and why we read them still today. Grateful obedience needs to take a certain shape, and the commandments are God's way to describe this shape. Because the children may tend to think these are all negative, it's important to express a positive attitude toward God's law, such as, "I'm glad that I can know how God wants me to show that I am grateful to him."

3. The law of God can be expressed in many different ways. You may choose to read the Ten Commandments directly, or you may select one of the variations of the Ten Commandments found in The Worship Sourcebook, 2.7.1-21 (pp. 127-137).

4. We are suggesting that the song, "Have Thine Own Way, Lord," become the sung prayer of application. Be sure to introduce it carefully so all are prepared to make this their prayer.

5. The Prayers of the People may take any one of the forms it has taken in previous weeks. We've encouraged that each week during this series this prayer be an expression of or built around the Lord's Prayer. We have offered several alternatives in the preceding weeks: an extended paraphrase of the Lord's Prayer with phrases from one of the catechisms, a prayer structured according to the Lord's Prayer with each line expanded according to the prayers written by the leader, or a combination of sung and spoken words. See the material of other services in this series.

6. We suggest that the text of Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 49, be included on your worship sheet or the screen and that it be referenced early in the sermon. To reprint for personal use, a ministry setting, or classroom use, include this credit line: © 1987, CRC Publications, Grand Rapids MI. Reprinted with permission.
What does the third request mean?
"Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" means,
Help us and all people
to reject our own wills
and to obey your will without any back talk.
Your will alone is good.
Help us one and all to carry out the work we are called to,
as willingly and faithfully as the angels in heaven. (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 49)

We also suggest that these words be reformulated so they able to be taken on the mouths of all worshipers as a sending prayer:
O Lord, our faithful God,
we pray that your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
To that end we ask that you will help us and all people
to reject our own wills
and to obey your will without any back talk.
We believe that your will alone is good.
So please help us one and all to carry out the work we are called to,
as willingly and faithfully as the angels in heaven.
We ask this for the sake of our Savior who was obedient for us. Amen.

Also in this series: