Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Thy Will Be Done

Question 103: What do we pray for in the third petition?
Answer: In the third petition, which is, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven, we pray, that God, by his grace, would make us able and willing to know, obey, and submit to his will in all things, as the angels do in heaven. (WSC
Sometimes we use these words, “thy will be done” to say, “Let your eternal decree be fulfilled in history. I am content with your providential guidance of history, even when I don’t like it, for you love me and are wiser than I am.” This is a good prayer. Nevertheless, it is not the main point of this phrase in the Lord’s Prayer, although contentment and submission to God are part of it.

“Your will,” in this passage, refers primarily to God’s law. It refers to his revealed will, contained in Scripture. It “being done” refers to obedience and submission. His revealed will is currently not being done on earth as it is in heaven. Much of earth is in rebellion against him. In heaven his will is perfectly obeyed by angels (Ps. 103:20-21). This prayer asks God to bring humanity on earth into the same conformity to his righteous will (Ps. 119:33-37).

We have rebelled and it is only through God’s grace that we can do his will. His grace gives us the ability to understand his revealed will. His grace renews our will so that we want to obey and submit to his will. More and more, God brings our thoughts and actions into conformity with his good will, and we look forward to the day in which this work will be complete in glory.

We desire obedience to his will, because God deserves obedience and we are zealous for our Father. We desire it because God’s will is good. If we love God’s character, we will want his will obeyed. We desire it because rebellion against God’s will is a source of disorder, judgement, and misery. We desire it for ourselves and we desire it for all the peoples of the earth, that earth may be as heaven.

As John Chrysostom, a noted preacher of the early church, said concerning this verse:
“He hath enjoined each one of us, who pray, to take upon himself the care of the whole world. For He did not say, ‘Thy will be done’ in me, or in us, but everywhere on the earth; so that error may be destroyed, and truth implanted, and all wickedness cast out, and virtue return, and no difference in this respect be henceforth between heaven and earth.”

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