Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Greetings in the name of the only Redeemer of God’s elect, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart oh take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.
These final words from the well-known hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” have resonated with Christians for many decades as they reflect the Christian’s life-long war against sin. These words are a confession of our current state. We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, praise be to God – and yet we still find ourselves prone to sin.
Paul writes in Romans of the same reality. He confesses that he does those things that he hates and he does not do those things which he loves. And he cries out for deliverance before confessing the salvation he and we have in Jesus Christ.
Similarly, the psalmist writes in many psalms of being in a dry and thirsty land (Psalm 63:1), panting after God as a deer pants for the water (Psalm 42:1) , feeling the enemies without and within drawing nearer to him (Psalm 22:16), the troubles of his heart being enlarged (Psalm 22:17, and even wondering if the Lord’s favor is gone forever (Psalm 77:7). And in every case the deliverance, protection, salvation, forgiveness, and life is found in the Lord his God.
The reality of sin and our tendency toward it is very obvious with just minor reflection on our lives. When we look at the world around us we see the same thing, perhaps even more. Sin is celebrated today as much as or more than ever before in history. Those sins which God hates are celebrated with parades in the biggest cities of the world. Sin and lies are promoted all around us, righteousness and truth are suppressed and mocked. This is the way of the fallen world today.
It has been said before that the world is getting worse and worse and will continue getting worse until the end of the world. When asked for the reasoning behind this conclusion, abortion and homosexuality are often cited as primary examples. And yet, we read in Kings and Chronicles that the kings of Israel and Judah were offering their own children as burnt sacrifices to false gods. We read of whole cities in Genesis and Judges given over to homosexuality. Is there anything new under the sun? The writer of Ecclesiastes tells us definitively that there is not.
The writer of Ecclesiastes concludes the book by saying, “Fear God and keep His commandments for this is the whole duty of man.” The giver of the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus Christ, tells us when we pray to say, “Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.”
Day by day we feel the weight and burden of sin and temptation. We fall into sin. We see sin abounding around us. And in the midst of this, the Lord tells us to pray. Pray that His will would be done on earth even as it is in heaven.
Some interpreters of this petition will teach a perspective that in prayer we should always acknowledge that the Lord’s will would be done with our requests. Like Jesus praying in the garden, “Nevertheless not what I will but what Thou wilt (Mark 14:36),” this third petition is teaching us to submit to the sovereignty and order of God.
However, this petition exhorts us more directly to pray that we and all the world would do that which God has revealed in His Word. When we pray, Thy will be done, we are praying and petitioning God that He would enable us and all men to glorify Him.
The children’s catechism asks, “How can you glorify God?” The answer, “By loving Him and doing what He commands.” The follow-up question is, “Where do you learn how to love and obey God?” And the answer, “In the Bible alone.” How to glorify God is not a mystery. God has given us His revealed will. He has given us His commandments, statutes, and judgments that we may walk in them and glorify Him. Those who walk in the counsel of the Lord are like trees planted by rivers of living water. They shall flourish whose mind is steadfast in the God.
In Psalm 119, the psalmist confesses over and over again his love for the law (Examples: Psalm 119:97, 111, 113, 174). And his love of the law comes from a hiding of the law in his heart (Psalm 119:11). As we pray to the Lord for His will to be done, we are also praying that God would remind us of His will. We cannot do His will if we do not know His will and so we hide His will in our hearts.
As the angels do God’s will in heaven, so we pray that God’s will would be done here on earth. We pray in this petition that righteousness would prosper, that wickedness would be diminished, and that in everything that comes to pass, God’s glory would be revealed to all men.
Prone to wander, Lord, we feel it, prone to leave the God we love. God has told us that we must pray to Him for the grace to make us “willing to know, do, and submit to his will in all things… (WLC #192).” So many times in the battle against the world, the flesh, and the devil, it is easy to forget to ask for help from our God who gives it. So often as we look at the world around us it is easy to complain or ridicule rather than pray. God has given us a duty – He has told His people to pray that His will would be done.
May we find grace from God to help us in the time of need as we pray to Him, “Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.” He who has told us to pray this will surely do it.
Almighty and most merciful Father
We are a sinful people living among a sinful nation
Prone to wander from Your statutes, so often we not only do not keep Your law
But we also forget it.
In Your mercy and for the sake of Jesus Christ the giver of all
Forgive us of our sin and enable us and all men to do Your will
As the prophet Ezra made the law his meditation and practice
As the angels obey Your commands and carry out Your will in heaven
So Lord help us to study and practice Your revealed will
To know, obey, and submit to You in all things
We pray likewise for all the world, that all men would delight in Your statutes and judgments
As You have instructed, so we ask that You would cause it to be done.
You are the God who is faithful from generation to generation and from age to age.
So we ask that You would show forth Your faithfulness to us in these our petitions
We pray in Jesus name, Amen.
Ben Stahl, Elder