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Petition Number Three

So far, we have looked at the first two petitions in the Lord's Prayer. The first one is that the Lord's name would be hallowed or glorified, and the second is a request for the kingdom of the Lord to come. It is important that we have these first two parts of the prayer in mind as we come to the third part. In one sense, the petitions of the prayer build on one another. Each one going a little deeper in our dependence on the Lord. We start with the general idea of glorifying or hallowing the name of the Lord. We want him to be glorified in everything. Specifically, we then ask for him to be glorified in the coming of his kingdom. In this sense, we are working from a general idea to more specific details. Today, we are going to look at the next step in the details. We have already asked for the Lord to build his kingdom, but now we are going to say we want more than just the kingdom. We want the king to rule.

Question #124

Let's get right into it by looking at the answer that the Heidelberg Catechism gives us about the third petition. It says;

Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. That is: Grant that we and all men may deny our own will, and without any murmuring obey Thy will, for it alone is good.[1] Grant also that everyone may carry out the duties of his office and calling[2] as willingly and faithfully as the angels in heaven.[3]

The first thing that stands out about the catechism answer is that it does not begin with the Lord's will but our own. It starts by saying that we are and should be asking that our own will must be made subject to the will of God. This is something that is important and often missed. One thing that is characteristic of humanity is our desire to be the center of things. We are continually elevating our own importance and making things about us. More than that, we are constantly being told by the culture that we need to elevate our opinion of ourselves. We have mountains of self-help books. Movies and TV shows constantly push the idea of self-expression and self-esteem. At the center of all of this is the idea of following your heart. Only you can determine what is good for you. But as we pray the Lord's prayer and pray the way the prayer teaches us to. We have to go in the opposite direction. We must deny ourselves. More than that, we are asking God to help us deny ourselves and our own desires in favor of what God wants.

An IMportant Understanding

A crucial element of this is the understanding that God alone is truly good. Our desires are only good desires when they align with what God wants. What God wills is good because it is God who wills it. This is difficult for us to come to terms with, not because it is difficult to understand, but because our desire to be the center of things gets in the way. We want to be the person who determines what is right and wrong for us. But right and wrong, good and bad, are not things that we can determine. That is, we do not get to decide if something is good or bad because we want to. We can look at something in comparison to the standard God has given us and say something does not line up with it, but we cannot make up our own standard. When we pray for the Lord's will to be done, we are acknowledging that his will is the standard for what is good, and we want what is good. Apart from God, there is no good. When we come to the Lord in prayer, must come in humility and submission to him as the only true good.


Sadly, this is one of the places where people start to fall away. We want to hold on to our independence. We want to be in control. We want to be the judge of what is right and wrong, and we even become offended when our understanding of those things is challenged. Here, we need to understand that what the Lord wills is going to happen regardless of what we want. We are not giving the Lord permission to act. He is God. He does what he pleases in the heavens above and on the earth below. We can no more stop him from doing something than we can stop the rain from falling or stop the earth from going around the sun. These things are what God has determined, and no matter how much we might like the rain to stop, we cannot change it. When we pray, Lord, your will be done, we are saying change our hearts as only you can do, so what I want it to rain precisely how long you want it to and not a moment longer.

Soli Deo Gloria

[1] Matt. 7:21; 16:24-26; Luke 22:42; Rom. 12:1, 2; Tit. 2:11, 12. [2] I Cor. 7:17-24; Eph. 6:5-9. [3] Ps. 103:20, 21.

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