The Great Sayings in the Gospels
How Shall We Pray?
Thy Will Be Done
9 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. KJV
As we have been going through this passage which we call “The Lord’s Prayer,” I have been attempting to challenge you to think carefully about the things you say out loud to God as you may say these words.
You know, this is not really the Lord’s prayer at all. It is the disciples’ prayer. “After this manner pray ye,” Jesus said. It is really our prayer, the one that is to guide us as we speak to God.
We have looked at the issues surrounding the calling of God ‘Father’ by human beings, how and why that can happen. We have taken note that He is in heaven and we are to locate Him there in our minds and hearts as we pray. We have also taken note of how it is that we regard His ‘name’ as holy and what the issues are surrounding His kingdom.
Today we come to an issue that is central not only to prayer but to the entirety of having a relationship with God the actual desire in a human being for God’s Revealed Will to be accomplished.
- What is the ‘Will’ of God?
What is it exactly that I am seeking to have happen when I say “Thy Will be done?”
In scripture we confront two very different issues concerning the will of God. There is what we call His Eternal Purpose and what is referred to as the Revealed Will. Both of them are shown to be the ‘Will of God’ and yet we have a very different interaction with each of them.
- The Eternal Purpose.
Any wise builder makes a plan before he builds and the undertakes to make that plan take actual shape. This plan guides every decision that is made, the people who are hired, the materials that are purchased, the order in which things are constructed, and every other issue involved in the building process. If a build has a good design and a good plan for bringing the design into reality, he soon has a finished product that is exactly what he intended in the first place.
Jesus Himself said that this is a good way to approach a project.
28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,
30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. KJV
In a similar but infinitely more exhaustive way, God planned His work before He ever created the first thing. Since it was God’s design to create this world so that He could have a people for Himself, the issue of His people was a central issue in all of those original plans. The scriptures are quite clear that this was the case.
1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:
2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. KJV
I would like for you to notice particularly v.11 where it says concerning God that He does (works) “all things according to the counsel of His own will.” God had a plan from the beginning which encompasses every thing that He has intended to do and accomplish in this world, from beginning to end.
Jesus said that (Matt. 10:29,30) the plan of God even included the number of hairs on every head and the life-span of every bird. Complete, exhaustive and detailed plans were worked out by God in eternity past as He planned the world in which we live.
This Eternal Purpose of God is also called in some discussions the Secret Will of God because He rarely lets us in on His purpose as He works in out in our lives. We seldom know as the circumstances of life unfold before us exactly what it is that God is doing. He has given us some comfort, however, that He has a good plan and a good end in mind.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? KJV
That being said, this is not the “Will of God” that we are to be praying for. This Will is going to be accomplished no matter what and in the exact way that God has determined ages ago. Praying or not praying is not going to change even the slightest thing concerning this Will.
- A. The Will of God with which we must be concerned is the Revealed Will of God.
God has communicated to us a series of expressed purposes and principles by which we are to live. When considered as a group, these principles are called in some places “The Law of God.” They are moral and spiritual instructions that we are to take to heart and undertake to obey.
Obedience to these instructions is called “Holiness” and “Righteousness.” The scriptures are quite clear that every person who actually has a relationship with God obeys His Laws and that those who live in rebellion to them are not His children.
1 John 3:6‑10
6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.
7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. KJV
Now this passage is not talking about perfection, otherwise no one would be saved. What it is talking about, however, is manner, practice and style of life. The person who makes a practice of obedience is a child of God and the one who refuses is called here a child of the devil.
So, the doing of this Revealed Will of God is a serious and important matter, would you not agree?
- But, how do I discern what is the Will of God for me?
The Jews were required to eat only certain foods, to circumcise their male children, to only wear certain kinds of clothes and to worship by animal sacrifices at the temple. Is that what I am required to do?
It is not by mistake or accident that we call ourselves New Testament Christians. Jesus Himself made it clear that people need not subscribe to every law given to the Jews in order to be obedient to God. Samaritans and Gentiles were received by Him as legitimate children without subscribing to the Jewish Law.
In order to help us, He taught and has His disciples teach those who believed on Him which things given to the Jews were applicable to the Gentile believers and which were not. Circumcision, the Jewish diet, sacrifices at the temple, and many other ceremonial laws given in the OT were deliberately not incorporated into the New Testament church.
However, all of the moral codes were affirmed as God’s Revealed Will to us and some of them were even greatly amplified as we have already seen.
21 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. KJV
It is the Revealed Will of God for the NT believer to refuse to carry improper anger toward others. Every moral issue commanded to the Jews is affirmed in the NT as our duty and then other duties are added that the Jews were not clearly taught.
I discern, then, the Revealed Will of God for myself by reading and studying the Word of God, particularly the New Testament.
- But this is a really large list of really difficult commands and laws. How do I get to the place to say, “Thy Will Be Done,” and mean it?
- First of all, I must understand that this idea of doing the Will of God is the very foundation of Biblical Repentance.
In Repentance a person comes into confrontation with the reality that he/she has been living in rebellion against the Living God, violating His Laws and, thus, living in sin (which, by definition, is refusal to submit to the Will of God).
When Repentance ‘works’ like it is designed to work, the sinner turns completely from his rebellion, no matter the cost, and fully embraces the idea and the principle of obedience to God.
Witness the man Zacchaeus.
1 And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.
2 And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.
3 And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.
4 And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.
5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.
6 And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.
7 And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.
8 And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.
9 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. KJV
Z. was a man who had made a fortune by dealing dishonestly with others, his own countrymen. He had distorted their tax debts, wrongly accused them to government officials, and had made an enormous profit from his endeavors.
But when he came face to face with Jesus Christ, he was smitten in his conscience and in his soul with the sins of stealing, false accusations, and the mistreating of the poor. So, in repentance he pledged half of all he owned as a gift to the poor. Those he had ‘robbed’ legally would be restored with four times as much as he had taken from them. (Even though the Law of Moses required only a 20% surcharge to be added to the original sum in such restorations)
The bottom line is that he committed himself to the highest standard of God’s law and went far beyond what anyone would or might expect of him. Z’s ultimate and essential commitment to God was, “Thy Will be done.” And he set about doing it.
- Secondly, I must understand that Repentance is not a one-time event that a person experiences, gets eternal life for it, and then puts it behind him and gets on with life.
Repentance, as this section of the prayer tells us, is a lifestyle, a daily renewal of the commitment to obey God.
Not only that but it is a growing thing. The more a person seeks to live in obedience to God, the more he reads the scriptures and the more he prays, the more detailed and complete his obedience becomes. His understanding of the Revealed Will of God grows and with it a determination to fully obey it so much as God will grant him grace to do so.
He grows steadily more careful in his life of the things he says, the things he does, even the things that he thinks. His longing to be obedient and his utter hatred of his own disobedience causes this particular prayer, “Thy Will be Done,” to grow steadily more intense.
- Thirdly, I come to the realization that this pray cannot be prayed with any kind of integrity unless there is actual sincerity in my soul to obey God.
If I pray this prayer and do not mean it, my conscience registers that I have told a lie to God and to myself. If there is even the slightest amount of spiritual honesty inside of me, I am provoked by such a thing and will seek to amend my life so that words like this are not lies.
So, if I would deal honestly before God and with my own soul, I must embark on a serious effort to discover the Will of God for me by a regular and serious reading of the Word of God as well as the hearing of gospel messages and the reading of good books to provoke my mind and enlarge my understanding.
So, incorporated into these fours words, “Thy Will Be Done,” is a massive commitment to God and an enormous prayer for assistance in the task.
- The bottom line here is the question: “Do I actually want the Revealed Will of God to be done in my life?”
Am I committed to holiness?
Will I obey God in all things?
Will I seek after holiness and truly undertake to be holy?
Will I read and study the Word of God to find the Will of God and then will I seek to make it a part of my life, day by day?
Will I make an earnest daily appeal to God to assist me in the effort?
Do you see that the only way to actually say “Thy Will Be Done” and mean it is to daily re-commit ourselves to the doing of the will of God from a heart that serves Him for no other reason than love that is motivated by gratitude?