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The third petition of the Lord’s Prayer is “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This petition is the last petition about God (Thou-Petition) that related to the previous petitions. It is a conclusive petition about God. This is a repeating petition of the second one, that is, it is for practicing the second petition. Without doing the will of God, it is impossible to glorify the name of God and the kingdom of God cannot be present. This petition is the central core of the Lord’s Prayer because of our getting daily bread, forgiving our debtors, not falling into temptations and being delivered from evil are practicing the will of God. It means that until the kingdom of God comes, the name of God is not glorified, the will of God is not being done, and the kingdom of God is not being established. Calvin mentioned, “When we pray these, we being to focus only on the glory of God. On the other hand, if we forget ourselves and we will not consider our own benefits.” All our interests in our prayers should be for the glory of God. Then our yearning for the kingdom of God will follow. Our honest effort to follow and serve the will of the Lord will also follow. The glory of God should be the greatest hope in our lives. So, if I live as a selfish individual, I cannot accomplish the will of God by using the word, “we” and cannot pray the Thou-Petition that can glorify God. If I do not try to live as a child of God, I cannot call God “Father” and do the will of God. If I do not try with all my strength to be holy, I cannot pray “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” and do the will of God. One of the early fathers, Origen said, “if the will of God is done on earth as it is in heaven, there will not be the earth as it is… we all will be in heaven.” Since this is not happening, we should pray for his will all the time. Even though people do not agree with the petition, the day will come when it will be done. The third petition is not essentially separated from the previous two petitions. They are one petition about God and the contents are Thy name, Thy kingdom and Thy will.
1. What is the will of God?
The Scriptures mention the will of God in two different views. One is God’s secret will that is the will of his decree. The other is God’s revealed will. I would like to discuss these in detail.
1) God’s secret will
We do not pray that God’s secret will be done for us. We cannot know this secret will. It is in God’s own heart. Men and angels do not have to access this will. It is the will that was hidden and the decisive will. This appears through the creation of God “for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being” (Rev. 4:11), through the providence of God “He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth,” (Daniel 4:35), and through the grace of God “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,” (Rom 9:15).
2) God’s revealed will
The Scriptures mention the meaning of this will. The Scriptures are the proclamation of the will of God. It reveals what God wants us to do for our salvation. This is the revealed and descriptive will of God. God revealed it through the bible, as it is good for him.
3) Division of the two wills of God
The secret will that is the hidden will be done on earth as same as is done in heaven. No one can disturb or prevent it. However, when we do not keep one of the teachings of the Lord, it is clear that the will is violated. The division clearly appears what Moses said to the Israelites; “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law,” (Deut. 29:29).
2. What are peculiarities included in the will of God?
1) God’s will is the absolute sovereignty of God.
The will of God is sovereign. It is the sovereign will. He has sovereign power to control all creatures according to his will. He also has sovereign authority to rule over all creatures. So, we cannot resist when God does his will. God made has will and no one can resist. His will does not change. It is not his obligation to explain what he does to creatures. Job 35:13 says, “Indeed, God does not listen to their empty plea; the Almighty pays no attention to it.” Scholars translate the Greek word, boule as the sovereign will of God. It means that the will of God is irresistible and unchangeable. Acts 2:23 clearly mentions that the cross is the will of God, “This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.” This means that God planned to deliver the world using any means he chose. Therefore there is no one who can resist or change it. The salvation of believers is also God’s plan (“according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.” Eph. 1:11). It indicates that where there are events in the believers’ lives, there also is the will of God (“The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord” Prov. 16:33).
2) God’s will is irresistible
Men could disagree with the will of God, but cannot change it. Romans 9:19 says, “For who resists his will?” Who can stop the earth from its rotation and revolution? Who can prevent the process of the will of God? His will has been fulfilled, and is fulfilling and will be fulfilled.
3) God’s will is justice
Genesis 18:25 says, “Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” The will of God is a ruler and scale. It is a righteous ruler. God may disagree with us, but he does not treat us unfairly. He may very strict, but he is not unrighteous. We who are depraved have to obey God who is holy and without error. So we need to pray, “Thy will be done,” for the sake of the fulfillment of his will and justice.
4) God’s will is comprehensive
It means that the will of God includes all the will of God. His will includes human history’s rise and fall, individuals’ lives and deaths, individuals’ health and illness, creation and the end and all things between heaven and hell. His will also includes the second coming and the establishment of the eternal kingdom. We need to pray, “Thy will be…” according to the will of God.
5) God’s will is good and gracious
One of the five points of Calvinism is irresistible grace or the efficacious call of the Spirit. This means that if God decided to save a man he will deliver the man and the man cannot resist it. Biblical redemption is God saving sinners who he called. This work of the Holy Spirit took place through the great love of God. It will be given irresistibly to all sinners who are called by God. God gives the gift of faith to them. God leads them to live a new life and make them his good watchmen. The Holy Spirit continuously works effectively and irresistibly. We come to know how good it is when the will of God is accomplished by the Holy Spirit. At this moment, we will be able to pray, “Thy will be done.”
6) God’s will is the security of believers
One of the five points of Calvinism is Perseverance of saints or Security of believers. It
means that those who are elected by God are delivered through Christ. They are not only born again but they also are able to stand firm in their faith by the almighty power of God. Those who are spiritually united with Christ through new birth, receive the eternal salvation in Christ. So, the will of God is the truth of the eternal life. The eternal life does not come from the human’s will. There is no one who can cut us off from the eternal and unchangeable love of God in Christ. The eternal life is assured for us who are in Christ. Even though we fail and fall into temptations, if we have the true faith, the
protection of God will never end. These sins cannot make us lose our salvation eternally. Therefore, we need to fully obey the will of God and devote ourselves willingly. When I pray, “Thy will be done,” I should pray “O, God! Your will be done on earth. Complete the will. Allow all struggles in my life, all sufferings, all nervousness, all sadness, all disease, all death, and all consequences of sin in my life to be suitable for the eternal plan of the Lord. Through living confessions, the people of God can be sure of their faith and eternal life, and they can live as those who get the ultimate eternal life with their prayer, “Thy will be done.”
7) There is a meaning of permission in the will of God.
The Greek word for the will of God, to qelhma sou means your will. Theologians say this phrase also means a means of permission. That is God permits the doing of things differently. I understand we can apply this permissive will of God to times when the will of God is not fully done because of the disobedience of humans and Satan’s interruption. This permissive will needs human’s cooperation and proper obedience to be accomplished. The permissive will means that men can use their free will. So, our life is not mechanical like a robot’s. We can sin and we can think and make decisions. It is because God does not want us to live like a robot. However, God does not interact history only with His permissive will. If God gave us all the rights to make decisions, if God does not intervene a direction of history and someone’s life, or does not make thing according to His sovereign power, what is going to happen in our history and life? There will be massive confusion because of human’s disobedience and Satan’s interruption. Someone says, “God allowed human beings some freedom to choose in his sovereign power. It is important how we manage this freedom, how to understand God’s will toward us in it and how to make decisions that can please God. It is also important that we live our lives to fit God’s plan and God’s mind.” I would like to quote Loraine Boettner to help us to understand and to establish the permissive will of God: “it is like fish in the fishpond that have freedom to swim around freely the pond. However, the freedom of the fish is only in the pond.” Fish in the pond cannot stay out of it. There is God’s boundary in history and personal life. But God also allowed us to use the permissive will in this category. We should be able to pray, “Thy will…” while understanding the will of God and applying it in our lives.
3. The Will Of God and Jesus Christ
According to the gospels’ witness, Jesus came to achieve the will of God and His earthly ministry was to fulfill it. The will of God can be found in the ministry and teaching of Jesus who came to fulfill the will. The will of God is to save people through Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ came for this mission. The gospels mention that Jesus’ ministry is to do the will of God who sent him.
7) The will of God appeared through the Son, Jesus Christ
Jesus, at that time, proclaimed forgiveness for those who were called while sinners, who could never be called children of God by their own merits. The poor, uneducated, need, wrongly accused, insulted, and those most needing the grace of God and those who yearned the coming kingdom were called. He gave the promise of the kingdom, became their friends and ate with them. Through these messianic ministries, he showed the fulfillment of the will of God.
8) The will of God is related to the cross
The concept of the relationship between the cross and the will of God appears at the
3. The Will of God and Christians
It is not easy to let the will of God be in humans history. The prayer, “Thy will be done,” is one of the most difficult prayers. As Christians what can we do to practice the will of God on earth and in history? I will discuss this further with “how can our acts acknowledge the will of God? Jesus Christ fulfilled the will of God on earth in two ways, vertically and horizontally. The apostle wrote, “it is God’s will that you should be sanctified” (1 Thessalonians 4:3) and give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). If the world’s church leaders and theologians only emphasize the horizontal concept without the vertical one, the will of humans will be done, expanding the earthly kingdom and exalting humans name rather than accomplishing the will of God, which is, expanding the kingdom of God and exalt the name of God. So, Calvin said in his theology of prayer, “if we don’t pray in the will of God, we cannot be recognized as children of God and servants of God… Therefore, they will perish.” We should be Christians who do the will of God.
4. Who can do the Will of God?
Whoever prays “Thy will… on earth,” with truth and spirit are people who actively obey God. Who are they?
a. They resist the will of Satan
“The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops” (2 Timothy 2:6).
b. They resist their depraved nature
“As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God” (1 Peter 4:2).
3) He defeats everything that is against the will of God
He knows that he cannot do the will of God without God’s direction and assistance. He humbly confesses and prays for the grace and power of God. He refuses things that are against the will of God.
4) He does the will of God without pretending and dishonesty.
He does the will of God with a pure heart while honoring it. He also does it with a pure purpose for the glory of God.
5) He does the will of God with a zealous heart immediately.
“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11). When the zeal for the will of God overflows, one can do the will of God.
6) He does the will of God willingly without complaining
The people of God do the will of God willingly, “And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind,” (1 Chronicles 28:9). A hypocrite can do good deeds but he does not enjoy his duties. When he does the will of God, it goes against his own will. That is, he does it out of duty but not wanting to. For example, Cain offered offerings but he did it because he had to. He did the will of God, but it did not agree with his will. When we do our duties with joyful heart and in willingness, we can do the will of God.
7) He does the will of God without changing
Angels do the will of God and serve Him day and night (Rev. 7:15 “Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple”). Like wise we need to imitate them. The unchanging completes obedience. It crowns on the head of obedience. The church in
8) He does not fear to do the will of God
He does not fear even if God changes his life from joy and happiness to persecution and suffering.
9) He wants to do the will of God immediately
It is necessary for us to do immediately the mission and orders we receive from God. Gabriel, the representative of angels, immediately and quickly acted on the will of God (Daniel 9:21). We have many excuses to not do the will of God. Those who were convinced by the will of God and Jesus Christ did the will of God quickly (Ps. ). Who can do the will of God? God wants to do his will through his children. So, we pray like this; “Father God! Please use me if you want to fulfilling your will. I will offer all of my life to you. O, Father God! Teach me your will, do your will in me and fulfill it through me.
5. How can we be recognized by what we did in doing the will of God?
The method to the will of God is the most important thing. So, with what method, we do the will of God is a very important matter.
1) We do the will of God when we believe that Jesus Christ is our
Lord and our God.
Jesus came to earth to do the will of God and told us that believing in him is doing the will of God (John 6: 29, 40). This is the whole summary of faith, of two covenant stones the and most active obedience to the will of God. Doing the will of God is believing in Jesus. It is fulfilling by the command to live a holy life according to the will of God. We can truly pray for assistance to live a holy life (sanctification) according to his will (1 Thess. 4:3).
1) Doing the will of God is proclaiming, the gospel
Jesus Christ came to fulfill the will of God as the gospel. He lived for the gospel, fulfilled the gospel and commanded us to proclaim the gospel to the end of the earth. He will come again to fulfill the gospel and he proclaimed that the promise of the new heaven and earth is the will of God. The most spectacular thing among the will of God that he accomplished was that he proclaimed his gospel. The apostle Paul lived his whole life for the proclamation of the gospel and worked as an evangelist (2 Tim. 4:5). We are waiting for the fulfillment of the will of God while we proclaim the gospel to others. Jesus Christ prays for this on the right hand side of the throne of God (Rom. ). When his church that is his body is completed on earth, he will come again. When we strive as evangelists, the will of God will be done more quickly.
2) Doing the will of God is serveing by the Spirit of God (Phil. 3:3)
Serving God spiritually is doing the duties from inner principles. Inner principles of obedience are faith. It was known as “so that all nations might believe and obey him” in Romans . Faith is looking upon Christ in all our duties. Faith bears fruits from the seed of being born again. Even though those who are not born again can imitate children of God it is in outer obedience only. They can pray with the same prayer and participate in communion, but do not have fruits. The service of those who are born again by the Holy Spirit is rooted in inner grace and this bears the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
3) Doing the will of God has a spiritual component in it
It includes faith, love and hope. Faith is that God does everything in his will. Love illustrates what God does as the best. Even the righteous God sometimes strikes me with difficulties, but I accept them with love. Humble men looks at their sins, kneel down before God and pray, “Thy will be done.” Obedient minds are filled with grace.
4) Doing the will of God is to pray faithfully for the fulfillment of the
will and for the life that has purpose
Prayer is to do the will of God. The purpose of the prayer is not to do the
human’s will in heaven, but the purpose do is to the will of God on earth. 1 John 5:14-15 describes the purpose of prayers; “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” Prayers are not to ask God to do, but to understand the will of God and to ask “Thy will be done”.
It is necessary to learn if the will is biblical or not. The will of God is revealed in the Scriptures. In the Scriptures, we need to find the teachings, promises and doctrines. The unity of the Word of God and prayer is a very important key to understanding the will of God (“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you,” John 15:7).
It is necessary to know if the Holy Spirit allowed the will of God. The Holy Spirit sometimes gives prayer lists in our hearts. The Holy Spirit is the leader of for our prayers (Jude 1:20). The Holy Spirit helps us to pray the prayer that can do accomplish the will of God (Romans 8:26). Christians who obey the Holy Spirit and fully agree with the will of God exalt the name of God, establishing the kingdom of God and doing the will of God. They can be Spiritual revolutionists.
The prayer of
6. Factors that helps to find the will of God
a. Observe what we hope for
This is my will. God always gives us hope in our heart. It is holy, wonderful, good and right. If we pray to know the will of God, God will give us hope according to his will (Ps. 37:4, Phil. ). We should observe how our hope occurs. This hope is not the hope that occurred according to what I want to have and what I want to do. It is the putting of my hope behind the will of God and following His will.
b. Observe if the motivation of my hope agrees with the Word of God.
If the motivation of my hope does not agree with the Word of God, the hope is not
the will of God.
c. Observe if there is any sign.
It is environmental evidence. When our motivation of hope agrees with the Word of God, God gives us signs. We need to observe things around us very carefully (Jud. 6:17).
d. We need to pray to receive the assurance to be able to do the will of God.
George Muller said, “we should pray until we have a confident heart to do the will.” When we receive the assurance, we will have peace and joy that the will of God will be done.
5) Observe if it glorifies God when we do the will.
Our first priority in our lives is to glorify God and rejoice in the Lord (1 Cor. ). Those who can glorify God can do the will of God. Men can rejoice in the Lord because they can receive the joy of eternal life and hope, and the joy of salvation in the Lord. When we glorify God and rejoice in Him while living holy lives, we can be the ones, who God want us to be and can do what God want us to do. Benjamin Schmolckwrote, “My Jesus, As Thou Wilt!” When he wrote this, it was a prosperous year, 1648, of the Catholic church after the religious war. The number of Lutheran churches in Germany had dramatically decreased and there was only one Lutheran church was left. He was the pastor of that church. He was in charge on 36 different districts. He was usually away from his home for several days to visit the members homes and often the houses were empty. The year 1704 he visited his church members’ houses with his wife and returned home late one night. They found that their house was burned down with their two children in it. They fell down on the ashes of their burned house and prayed in tears, “my Jesus as Thy wilt.” I understand that they remembered Jesus’ prayer that Jesus prayed just before the cross and performed the hymn. The hymn does not mean that they gave up because of what they faced. It meant that “your will blessed me and I believe that you will be glorified.” They truly prayed that “Lord, let your will be done.”
Only one will will be done in heaven. The only will that will be done in haven is the will of Father (Matt. 7:21) only those who do the will enter the kingdom (Matt. ). Men on earth totally are depraved. Where there is allowed the will of Satan who is the depraved angel, the will of God cannot be done. If there are 40 billion people on earth, it means that there are at least 40 billion wills on earth. However, there is only one will that has been done, and will be done. George Truett said, “the greatest knowledge is to know the will of God and the greatest achievement is to do the will of God.”
We discussed knowing the will of God and doing this will. We also discussed the will of God on earth in our life. It is impossible for us to know fully the will of God.
However, I hope you will live your life according to the will of God that you do know. I hope that you will be able to confess that you have started your life by the will, lived by it and stopped where the will of God stopped you. When I asked a question, “Do you pray for the will of God be done in your life?” in my survey for my theses, 76.1% of the participants answered “yes.” How should our petition be when praying the third petition? Let us be encouraged to live our lives according to the will of God and to be ruled by the will of God. “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God,” (Psalm 143:10). This is what the saints prayed and lived. I hope that the will of God will be done in our lives and the life of the Lord would fill our lives.
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