In our brief series going through the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4), we now come to the third request, which is “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (v.10). This is closely-related to the previous request (“Thy kingdom come” – v.10). After all, one of the primary ways that a king’s kingdom is manifested is in his will being done. The one must lead to the other.
What does it mean to pray for the Lord’s will to be done? It means (as Jesus goes on to tell us in v.10), that His will would be done “on earth as it is in heaven.” How is God’s will done in heaven? Perfectly. Perpetually. Personally. That is how the angels themselves do the will of God in heaven! They obey Him perfectly. There is no disobedience or sin in heaven. None. (That is part of what makes heaven, well, heaven!) They obey Him perpetually. In other words, they do His will at all times. Always. And they obey Him personally. They live to serve the LORD and do His will.
That has important implications for those who confess the name of Christ and who would sincerely pray the Lord’s prayer. If you are going to pray for the Lord’s will to be done on earth, that has to start with His will being done in your own life, doesn’t it?
But what does that entail? It means first of all that we humbly submit to and accept His will in whatever He sends our way in this life. That is to pray as Jesus Himself prayed in the garden of Gethsemane – “not as I will, but as You will” (NIV). To pray this way requires that we trust God that His will is good, and that He knows what He is doing (even when we ourselves do not). Do you pray that way? Do you pray for the Lord’s will to be done in your life, even in times of trial or suffering? The Lord “works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11, ESV). All things. And so He alone is worthy of our trust at all times.
It also means that we must seek to do the will of the Lord in our own daily lives. And if we are praying for the Lord’s will to be done without a sincere desire and aim to do what the Lord has commanded in His Word, then we are just going through the motions in prayer. There is a word for that kind of thing – hypocrisy. As Jesus Himself said, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46, NIV).
So let us learn to pray for the Lord’s will to be done, both in our own lives as well as in our families, our community, and even “on earth as it is in heaven.”