23 October 2005
Matthew 6:10, Psalm 67, 2 Samuel 15:25 & Job 1:21
The Westminster Shorter Catechism
Q. 103. What do we pray for in the third petition?
A. In the third petition (which is, “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven,”) we pray that God, by His grace, would make us able and willing to know, obey, and submit to His will in all things, as the angels do in heaven.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism in Modern English:
Q.103. For what do we pray in the third request?
A. In the third request (your will be done on earth as it is in heaven) we pray that by His grace God would make us have the capability and the will to know, obey, and submit to His will in everything, as the angels do in heaven.
1. What do we mean by the will of God?
When we pray, “Thy will be done,” we mean by His will two things: (1) His will of Providence in which He determines what He will do for us and to us. This is His secret will, the will of His decree (Isaiah 46:10). (2) His will that is revealed to us in the Scripture and one for which we should be constantly praying (Acts 21:12-14).
2. When we are praying for His providential will to be done, what is involved in our prayer?
We are praying that we might be made willing to comply with His will in our lives. A good example of this is found in 1 Samuel 3:18 where it states, “He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes.” We are willing to see God in the ways He takes us though sometimes our “seeing” Him is by faith.
3. What is involved in our prayer when we pray for His revealed will to be done?
We are praying that we might understand, through His Word and the help of the Holy Spirit, the ways He would have us to go. We are praying, “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.” (Psalm 143:10).
4. How can we be made willing to do His will?
We should recognise He is our Sovereign God and be willing to let the Holy Spirit lead us within that framework. We should recognise that His will is freer to work in us as our hearts are free from the love of the world. We should recognise that His way is the best for us and that someday we will understand.
5. What sort of obedience do the angels in heaven have toward God’s will?
Our Larger Catechism tells us it is one of “humility, cheerfulness, faithfulness, diligence, zeal, sincerity, and constancy” (Larger Catechism Q. 192).