“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen” (Matthew 6: 9-13)
“Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven”
Like the first petition, “Hallowed be thy name”, this phrase, “Thy will be done” “is more of an affirmation than a request. It reflects our heart’s earnest desire to live in accordance to the will of God.
The Bible tells us that God rules sovereign in all the earth; He works “all things after the counsel of his own will” (Eph. 1: 11 cf. Ps. 115: 3). Absolute in will and power, the Lord reigns supreme above all authority in heaven and earth. Why then do we pray for God’s will to be carried out? Why this seemingly pointless petition? Let us consider some reasons:
o Acknowledgment of God’s sovereignty
When we pray, “Thy will be done”, we are affirming our belief in God’s sovereignty and Almighty power. None can resist nor thwart His will. His counsel shall stand; all that He has ordained will come to pass: “The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations” (Ps. 33: 11). All His promises will be fulfilled to the very letter. With Him “is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (Jas. 1: 17).
Closely related to our faith in God’s sovereignty is our belief that God will fulfil His will in our lives. We are sure that as our loving Heavenly Father, He will work out all things for our good (Rom. 8: 28). This carries with it the knowledge that God’s ways are without doubt higher than ours (Isa. 55: 8-9) and His will is the best for us.
o Submission to God’s will
As we struggle daily with life’s trials and our fleshly lusts, we often resort to our Father’s throne of grace (Heb. 4: 16). We may pray for quick deliverance or for God to answer according to our heart’s desires. We may pray for things that are unprofitable for our souls. But as we utter this third petition, we resolve to yield to God’s will even if it is contrary to ours. We have learnt from past experiences that following God’s directive is the best way for us – it has brought peace, comfort and blessing to our souls.
Dr Peter Masters aptly comments: “‘Thy will be done’ is a way of saying, ‘Thy will is perfect’ … I submit myself to all that Thou dost command. I will renounce my own will, and my own ideas’” (Sword & Trowel 1998 No. 1).
This submissive spirit was exhibited by our Saviour in the Garden of Gethsemane. When faced with the prospect of the cruel cross, Jesus struggled with deep anguish of His soul. Three times, He prayed that “this cup” be removed from Him: “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matt. 26: 39). His agony was so intense that “His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Lk. 22: 44). Despite His struggles in the flesh, the Lord yielded to His Father’s will. Our Saviour went all the way to the cross to save us from our sins.
Brethren, as we pray, “Thy will be done”, let us humbly submit to our Father’s will. Like our Saviour, let us seek not to do our own will, but the will of the Lord. May we yield our lives to love Him and to do His blessed will.
“None can pray thus who have not merged their own wills into the divine will. … It is mockery for disobedient lips to utter such a prayer” (The People’s New Testament Commentary).
o Enlargement of God’s kingdom
It is God’s will to save the perishing (II Pet. 3: 9). In this petition, we express our desire that many more souls will be reached with the Gospel of grace. We yearn that the elect of God might soon enter His kingdom. We are reminded of our responsibility to evangelise the lost in the Great Commission: “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matt. 28: 18-20).
As we utter this prayer, let us help to enlarge God’s kingdom by witnessing for the Lord by our words and our lives.
We end with some thoughts from J R Miller: “The most successful life – is the one which submits the most cheerfully and the most completely, to the will of God. It will not be an indolent life, nor will it be aimless and purposeless. It is the will of God – that every ability of our being shall be brought out, trained, and disciplined to its highest possibility, and devoted to the noblest and worthiest service. But the dominant influence in our life, should always be the will of God – and not any ambition of our own. Then shall we fulfill the purpose for which God made us, when he sent us into the world” (The Golden Gate of Prayer). May the Lord grant us grace to do His will. (… to be continued)