Your Will be Done
We have been going through the Lord’s prayer taught in Matthew, chapter 6. The prayer Jesus taught his disciples to pray is a gold mine. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, a famous preacher from Britain and one of my greatest heroes of the faith, says, “Any man who attempts to preach on the Lord’s Prayer must surely find himself in great difficulties. There is a sense in which it is almost presumption to preach on it at all. One should simply repeat these phrases and meditate upon them and consider them from the heart.” The petitions are filled with a wealth of theology that we often lack in our prayer life. Today, we will be looking at the third petition, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” How can you know the will of God? What should I do as a career? What college should attend? What am I to do with my life in retirement? Should we have another child? Should we adopt a child? What house should we buy? Does, “God’s will be done,” mean what color shirt I should wear today?
The Bible teaches that God is sovereign over all things (Ps 115:3; 1 Chr 29:11-12; Prov 16:9, 19:21; Job 42:2). So why do we pray, “Your will be done?” Some people believe that God’s hands are tied until someone permits him to carry out his will to be done. This belief would place God at the hands of man, and God would not be sovereign. Like the previous two petitions, we are not giving God permission but requesting God to do something. Prayer is a means of grace God has given us. The Westminster Shorter Catechism (WSC) (98) says,
“Prayer is offering up of our desires unto God, (Ps. 62:8) for things agreeable to his will, (1 John 5:14) in the name of Christ, (John 16:23) with confession of our sins, (Ps. 32:5–6, Dan. 9:4) and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies. (Phil. 4:6) ”
If God is Sovereign, why do we pray Your will be done?
Prayer does not change God’s mind because God is unchangeable (Acts 4:28;
Jam 1:17; Ps 102:27; Mal 3:6; Heb 13:8; 1 Sam 15:29). Prayer is effective; God has foreordained what so ever shall come to pass. God, in his ordinary providence, makes use of means, one of these ordinary means is prayer. God has ordained the answer to prayer and the prayer itself. The Bible shows that prayer is effective; a few examples can be found in Exodus 32 and 2 Kings 20-21. God’s plans are not changed in these passages, but God’s plan was how he ordained it to come to pass, through prayer and answering prayer. Charles Spurgeon said, “Prayer is the slender nerve which moves the muscle of omnipotence.”
Prayer is powerful and effective, not because of the person praying the prayer but the God whom we pray and through Jesus whose name we pray in. When we pray you will be done, we are not praying to change the mind of God or his will. Our prayer asks God to change us for his glory.
Hidden or Revealed
When we read the word ‘will’ in the Bible, two main concepts are used in this one word. Similarly, in English, we call these homonyms; for example, if I use the word current, I could be referring to something that is up to date or a flow of water. When we read the will of God, we need to ask the question of what does this mean in its context.
Decretive or Hidden
The decretive or hidden is the will of God by which He purposes or decrees whatever shall come to pass, whether He wills to accomplish it effectively (causatively), or to permit it to occur through the unrestrained agency of His rational creatures. Often this is called God’s providence. God alone knows his will and he carries it out (Prv 21:2; Rom 9:18; Eph 1:11; Acts 2:23; cf. WSC 11).
Preceptive or Revealed
The preceptive or revealed is the rule of life which God has laid down for His moral creatures, directing the duties which He commands upon them. We know this as Scripture, which principally teaches what man is to believe concerning God and what duty God requires of men (WSC 3). The revealed will of God is what God requires of man (Eph 6:6; Heb 13:21; Eph 5:17; Ps 143:10; Matt 7:21, 12:50).
The decretive or hidden will of God always comes to pass, but we do not always obey or follow the preceptive or revealed will of God. When we pray you will be done, we are praying that we might trust God in his providence and also that we might, through his help, obey what the scriptures teach us.
Change our ability and our will.
How are we asking God to change us when we pray, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven?” When we pray your will be done, we realize that God’s will is not done on earth as it is in heaven. In the beginning, when Adam and Eve sinned and disobeyed God by eating the forbidden fruit, they choose their will against God’s revealed will. Through Adam all have fallen, and fallen short of the Glory of God (Rom 3:23). You and I by our own nature are unable and unwilling to obey God. We do not live with the chief end of Glorifying and enjoying God forever. When we pray you will be done, we realize that we are at war against God’s will. We are asking God to change our will and ability. We are asking God to help us; we need Christ to make our prayers that of a righteous mane because it is only through his name we approach the throne of God and we also need the Spirit to work within us to awake our souls that we might be able and willing to see God’s will be done.
If you think you are able to do this through positive thinking, change your heart, you would be demanding a stone heart to beat. A dead man to breathe. A Blind man to see. Only through the invigoration of God in our lives are our affections and desires changed to pray with a fire in our souls to see God’s will be done.
Change our minds, hearts, and actions.
When we pray, “your will be done,” we are asking God to change our will and ability to know, submit, and obey God’s will on earth as it is in heaven. We do this when we pray “be done.” We pray that we might see fruit in our lives. That we would have our whole life changed and centered around God’s will (Deut 6:5; Ps 119:11, 97; Ps 19:10; Ps 1:2-3) We pray that we might know the word that might be like blood in our veins; sustaining life and throughout our whole life. We pray that we would be living sacrifices for God’s Glory (Rom 12:1). One of the most significant pieces of advice for a preacher is that he would preach to himself, or said another way practice what you preach. The same should be said about prayer, we should practice what we pray. We cannot honestly and sincerely pray, “Your will be done,” and not be willing to share our faith with others; to love one another; to seek to obey God in our lives. We should be praying for people that practice what we pray.
The Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) explains that God’s word is sufficient for all aspects of our life. The WCF 1.6 says, “The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for His glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture.” The Bible, gives us the revealed will of God, we are unable to know the hidden will until history comes to pass. When we are asking for the will of God in our lives, we would like to know the hidden will of God but really should be knowing the revealed word of God. The Bible speaks to all of these questions, maybe not directly but gives us all that we need to know to make this decision. For example, the Bible does not mention iPhones (It does mention tablets, Ex 32:16; 34:1). However, the Bible does give us a lot of instruction on how one should use their phone for the glory of God. We are to communicate with one another, in love, always being sober-minded, enduring suffering, doing the work of an evangelist (2 Tim 4:5). We should have nothing to do with foolish ignorant controversies: not being quarrelsome, kind to everybody, patiently enduring evil, correcting our opponents with gentleness (2 Tim 2:24-25). These instructions can be for sending a text message! A great book on this is called, “Just Do Something,” by Kevin DeYoung.
Change our focus
We pray his will would be done in all things. We pray his will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. As we practice what we pray, we should have the heart to pray bold prayers. We should be praying that the lost might be found. We should be praying God’s kingdom would be expanded at this outpost in Glade Spring, and across the globe. We should be praying for God’s name to be kept holy in our worship. We should be praying that hearts would be changed as young children step over the threshold of the door to hear the Gospel of Jesus during VBS. We should be praying that God would raise up ministers and missionaries from within these walls to go and proclaim the Gospel to the world. EM Bounds, one of the greatest authors on prayer explains, “Any church calling itself the house of God, and failing to magnify prayer; which does not put prayer in the forefront of its activities; which does not teach the great lesson of prayer, should change its teaching to conform to the Divine pattern or change the name of its building to something other than a house of prayer.” Let us continue in bold prayers, especially God’s will would be done, and let us not only pray these prayers but also see ourselves as the answer to some of these prayers as well.