December 3 - LD 49, Day 1: Praying God’s Will Be Done
by Rev. Martyn McGeown
Matthew 6:10 “ …Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”
About the third petition, there is considerable confusion among Christians. What do we mean by God’s will? Is God’s will, as Reformed Christians teach, always accomplished? If so, why do we need to pray for God’s will to be done? Does Jesus teach here that God’s will is done in heaven, but not done in earth?
It is important to remember as we consider this petition, that the Bible speaks of God’s will in different senses. If we understand that, we will see that there is perfect harmony between God’s sovereignty and our need to utter this prayer to God.
First, the Bible speaks of God’s will of decree. That will is what God has determined to be done in history. Other terms include God’s good pleasure or God’s counsel. That will of God is always accomplished. No man is able to resist or thwart that will of God. Nebuchadnezzar was compelled to make this confession in Dan 4:35, “…he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” That will of God includes everything that occurs in history, whether good or evil.
That will of God is always performed in heaven and on earth.
Second, the Bible speaks of God’s will of command or precept. That will is what God has commanded His creatures, especially human beings, to do. That will is revealed to us in the Law of God. That will of God is very rarely performed. None of the wicked ever perform that will, for their life is a walk in disobedience (Eph 2:2). Even believers attain only a small beginning of this new obedience. That will, of God’s command, is, however, perfectly done in heaven, although rarely on earth.
Sometimes, Christians speak about God’s revealed will and God’s secret will. Much of God’s counsel is secret. We know God has a counsel, but we do not know the details. God’s commands are revealed. He reveals to us how we must live. Therefore, our calling is not to pry into God’s secret decrees, but to obey God’s revealed will—even if our obedience means that we suffer loss, inconvenience and even persecution.
One more thing we must add to our explanation of God’s will. God does not have a will by which He desires things which He has not decreed. Some theologians have misused this distinction in God’s will to teach a contradiction in God’s will. It is not true, for example, that God has decreed to save only some, but that He desires to save all. God does not desire things which He knows will never happen, having decreed that they will never happen.
There is a twofold relationship between God’s will and our prayers. First, God decrees even our prayers as necessary means to fulfill His purposes; and second, we pray that God would enable us more and more to obey God in His will of command.
Obeying God’s will is difficult. Let us pray for grace to obey.
- Date: December 3
Rev. Martyn McGeown
Pastorates: Missionary-pastor in Limerick, Ireland for the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church of Northern Ireland - 2010.Website: www.limerickreformed.com/
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