Q.124. What does the third request mean?
A. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven means: Help us and all people to reject our own wills and to obey your will without any back talk. Your will alone is good. Help up one and all to carry out the work we are called to, as willingly and faithfully as the angels in heaven.
Have you ever felt that God’s will was too hard or too difficult or too unrealistic? I have. Many times in my life I consider the Lord’s directions concerning money, forgiveness, and service and every time I am struck by how much I repulse at his desires. We are not alone. Jesus struggled with God’s will too. He struggled with sweaty drops of blood and with tears and cries of anguish. But this part of the prayer was what carried his through – submission to God the Father. We pray this request in order for God to change us, empower us and bring us to obedience. Read Hebrews 5:7 and Matthew 26:39.
But more than just rejecting our own wills, is an acceptance of God’s will, understanding that his will is to show great love to the world. I can only imagine that Mary stood aghast at the idea she was pregnant. I can only imagine that the possibilities of the future rolled through her mind and tried to bring her concern and ever deter her from willing submission to God, but in a visible portrayal of this prayer she simply responded joyfully to God. Read Luke 1:26-38.
What could cause these two people to lay aside their hopes, desires and fears in order to see God’s will be done? Only great understanding of God’s will to love and redeem people is enough to cause such radical surrender. When we come to believe that our Lord truly loves us and has not only our best interest, but also the best interest of the world in mind, then we can begin to see that his will alone is good. Read Romans 12:1-2.
So can a Christian know God’s will? Certainly. Though we might not be able to know every small detail of God’s will for the world, we can know certain major themes and so align our lives and our prayers with these grand desires of God. In Ephesians 5:10 and 17 Paul encourages the people to “find out what pleases the Lord” and to “understand what the Lord’s will is.” Following both verses Paul speaks about avoiding evil and selfish ways of living and replacing them with truth, thanksgiving, goodness and righteousness. Read Ephesians 5:8-20.
God’s will is that his people be sanctified, or set apart for his service. We are to be a people who love other, do good, rely on God and show great truth. We are to share our hope in Christ and make disciples. These are but a few of the things involved in praying for God’s will to be done. Read 1Thessalonians 4:3, 5:16-18 and 1 Peter 2:15.
The final words of the request remind us that those in heaven scrupulously obey God’s will. As believers, we are called to recognize our citizenship from another realm and so we pray for the ways of the Kingdom to come to the realm of earth in which we live as aliens. Read Psalm 103:20-21, Philippians 3:17-4:1 and Hebrews 11:13.