The Doer of God’s Will
Then I said, “Behold, I have come—in the volume of the book it is written of Me— to do Your will, O God.” Hebrews 10:7NKJV
This morning we look at Westminster Larger Catechism Question 192, which asks, “What do we pray for in the third petition?” It gives the answer, “In the third petition (which is, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven,) acknowledging, that by nature we and all men are not only utterly unable and unwilling to know and do the will of God, but prone to rebel against his word, to repine and murmur against his providence, and wholly inclined to do the will of the flesh, and of the devil: we pray, that God would by his Spirit take away from ourselves and others all blindness, weakness, indisposedness, and perverseness of heart; and by his grace make us able and willing to know, do, and submit to his will in all things, with the like humility, cheerfulness, faithfulness, diligence, zeal, sincerity, and constancy, as the angels do in heaven.”
Sometimes a question is also a confession. When I asked my wife if we were not supposed to cut the apple pie that was in the refrigerator, her response was, “Honey, that was for tonight!” She intuitively understood that my question included my confession. Similarly the third petition of the Lord’s Prayer includes an implied confession. When we ask God for His will to be done on earth as it is done in heaven, we are confessing that currently it is not. We are also confessing that God alone can rectify this incongruity and bring it about so that His will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven. As the Catechism states, because of our fallen natures all human beings are “utterly unable and unwilling to know and to do the will of God.” We are both unable and unwilling. We are unable for apart from God’s revealing His will to us we have no access to it. Now God has revealed His will to us in general and in special revelation but that does not solve the problem for we are also by nature unwilling to know and to do God’s will. Sinful man naturally suppresses God’s general revelation in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18-32), and twists God’s special revelation to his own destruction (2 Pet. 3:16). We do not want the knowledge of God’s will to be accurately communicated, and even when it is we are by nature opposed to doing it.
Therefore, this petition acknowledges that we need more than accurate information in order to do God’s will. If God’s will is going to be done on earth as it is done in heaven, God is going to have to do it. He is going to have to change the wills of fallen men so that we do not continue to resist knowing and doing His will. Moreover, our problem is not merely that we are opposed to God’s will, the Catechism states that we are also “prone to rebel against his word, to repine and murmur against his providence.” Here the word repine means to feel dissatisfied about. Fallen man in His unwillingness to do God’s will is not in any sense a victim or even a passive bystander. We see God’s will in creation and in His word, we experience it in the provision and care we have in our lives and we do not like it. We are like the Israelites grumbling in the wilderness. They did not have water as much or as often as they wanted it. God gave them manna – bread from heaven – and they did not like it. They grew tired of it. They wanted meat and melons. They grumbled against the leaders that God had given them. They grumbled against one another. God was providing for them according to His will, but they wanted their own will. They thought God was doing a poor job of providing for them.
We are much the same. We look at the evils in this world and wonder why does God allow them? We see our leaders act foolishly and we grumble against them and mock them, even though we know that every authority is from God (Rom. 13). We see our churches or our ministries struggle and we seek to introduce unbiblical practices that promise to make things easier. Not only this,but we are naturally inclined to the will of our sinful natures (the flesh) and to the will of the devil. Thus we see just how much we need to pray for our Father in heaven to cause His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven! This petition should be made with humble and yet hopeful hearts. We should despair of any ability in ourselves to do God’s will. But we should confidently and joyfully expect this request to be answered because Jesus, who did God’s will perfectly, taught us to look to and to ask God our heavenly Father to do it.