The Will Matthew 6:10

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.  Matthew 6:9-10
 
"Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven."

In the second petition of this prayer, we have prayed for God's spiritual Kingdom, that it may be set up and established in our hearts; for His visible Kingdom, or Church, that it may increase and spread, until it fill the whole earth; and for His heavenly Kingdom, that it may soon drive away and put an end to every kind of sin and sorrow, and leave nothing to be seen in the new heavens and the new earth but a glorious God, filling all things with His presence, and ruling with a Father's love over His dutiful and holy children. Already, therefore, we have desired that those things be fulfilled which are contained in this third petition. We cannot desire that He be King over the earth, without desiring that His will be done on earth. We do not sincerely own Him as King, unless we set His will above our own and every other. For a kingdom where there is not one guiding will is a distracted kingdom, doomed to fall: a king whose will is not done is a mocked and virtually dethroned king. However, to add this petition is not to repeat, though it be to develop and follow out, the preceding. The three petitions are to one another as root, stem, and fruit; as beginning, middle, and end.

It is not enough that the Kingdom be established, that its boundaries be enlarged, and its glory delighted in; there is an end for which all this is brought about, and that end is that the will of the Ruler may be done. We desire that God may assert His dominion over us and all men, and may give us to know that He is a living and near God by the force of His will upon us. From the "name" we pass to the work as displayed in His Kingdom, and from the work to the will. From the outskirts of His personality we pass to its heart.

1. The petition, "Thy will be done," is not only the summit or the climax of those petitions in which we seek God's honour and glory; it is the foundation of all prayer. For what is prayer? It is not, as is sometimes foolishly thought, a mere means of trying to extort something from God; nor an attempt to change the will of God regarding us, as if, by our continual asking, we might obtain certain things which God had hitherto denied us. It is, first of all and chief of all, an acknowledgment on our part that God knows what is best for us, and a desire that He would enable us to submit our wills to His will. We cannot rightly ask for anything, unless we ask for it in humble dependence upon the will of God; unless, in asking, we are conscious that we do not desire it, unless God desires it for us.

2. "Thy will be done," - that, then, is the spirit of every true prayer. But it is more, it ought to be the spirit of every true life. Apart from such acknowledgment as is here implied, how aimless our lives are apt to be, swayed hither and thither by every idle impulse, at the mercy of every gust of passion, or at the best centred in some selfish or worldly pursuit. But, on the other hand, once a man has realized that he has come forth from God, that God has need of him, and has a purpose for him to fulfil, what new strength and dignity of character he gains! He learns that he does not stand alone, and gradually there is borne in upon him the triumphant consciousness of a life lived, not according to any self-willed object or desire, but step by step unfolding itself according to "the complete and perfect plan cherished for it in the heart of God." With the Hebrew Psalmist he can exclaim, "O Lord my God, in thee do I put my trust." "My times are in thy hand."

3. God's will is to be done here - here on earth - and now. We are not to wait for another life, as if then alone we could truly serve God. But our service here is to prepare us for our service hereafter. We are told of the angels of God that they "do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word," and that they are "all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation." And the ministry of the angels is, as this petition teaches us, to be the model of our ministry.

When Hooker was lying on his deathbed, a friend visiting him found him in deep contemplation, and asking what his thoughts were, received the reply that he was "meditating the nature and number of angels, and their blessed obedience and order, without which peace could not be in heaven; and, Oh! that it might be so on earth."1 [Note: G. Milligan, The Lord's Prayer, 83.]

When Gladstone was asked for his favourite quotation he gave the six words of Dante, "La sua volontade e nostra pace" - "His Will is our peace."2 [Note: P. Dearmer, in Churchmanship and Labour, 249.]  


to be continued