And he said to them, When you pray, say, Our Father which are in heaven, Hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done…
I. THE PETITION ITSELF.
1. What this will of God is.
(1) God's purpose is His will.
(2) The precepts and commands are also the will of God.
2. What will it is we pray may be done.
(1) It is clear that we especially and absolutely pray that the will of God's precept may be done, and that, not only by us, but by all men: for this will of God is the rule of our obedience, and according to it we ought to conform all our actions. And, because we are not sufficient of ourselves so much as to think anything of ourselves, much less to perform all those various and weighty duties of holiness which God hath enjoined us in His Word, therefore our Saviour hath taught us to beg of God grace and assistance to enable us to fulfil His will. And, indeed, there is a great deal of reason we should pray that His will of precept should be done on earth, if we consider —
(a) The great reluctancy and opposition of corrupt nature against it. The Law is spiritual; but we are carnal, and sold under sin (Romans 7:14).
(b) God's glory is deeply concerned in the doing of His will. For it is the glory of a king to have his laws obeyed. And so is it God's.
(c) Our own interest is deeply concerned in it.
(2) It is more doubtful, whether we are simply to pray that God's will of purpose should be done.
(a) Because the will of God's purpose is secret and unknown, and therefore cannot so immediately concern us in point of duty; for secret things belong to God, but revealed things belong to us and to our children (Deuteronomy 29:29).
(b) Because this will of God shall, within the periods set by His eternal decrees, have its most perfect and full accomplishment. For, though His revealed will may be resisted and hindered, yet neither men nor devils can hinder His secret will and the purposes of His counsels: these shall take place, notwithstanding all their spite and oppositions; and therefore it seems act altogether so proper matter for our prayers.
(c) Many things come to pass by the will of God's purpose which we ought not to pray for; yea, which we ought to pray against. As — not to instance in God's will of permitting the sins and wickednesses of men, which, beyond all exceptions, we ought to deprecate — let us but consider, common charity obligeth us not to pray for any evil of suffering to befall either ourselves or others; and yet we know that it is oftentimes the will of God's purpose to bring great and sore judgments upon kingdoms, and upon families and persons. And if we may indefinitely pray that this will should be done, this would be nothing else but to pray for the death and ruin of many thousands, whom yet the revealed will of God commands us to pray for, and to desire all good and prosperity to them. But yet, notwithstanding all this, we may doubtless pray that the will of God's purpose may be done, so far as it brings to pass those things which we are obliged to pray for by the will of His precept.
(3) The next thing to be taken notice of is the particle "Thy" — "Thy will be done. And this carries in it both an emphasis and an exclusion.
(4) The last thing to be inquired into, is, what is meant by God's will being "done on earth." And here, briefly to resolve this, that the will of God should be done on earth, signifies that it be done by men living on the earth; the place here being put for the persons in it.
(a) That all men in the world, renouncing the will of Satan and their own corrupt wills, may readily subject themselves unto the will of God.
(b) We pray that we may employ and improve the few and short days of this mortal life to the best advantage.
II. THE MEASURE AND PROPORTION OF THE PETITION. That we may the more fully understand what it is we pray for, we shall inquire how the holy angels and blessed spirits do the will of God in heaven.
1. Their obedience is absolutely perfect.
(1) They do all that God enjoins.
(2) They do the whole will of God with all their might.
2. Their obedience is cheerful, not extorted by fear.
(1) The will of God is done in heaven with zeal and ardency.
(2) The will of God is done in heaven with celerity and ready dispatch.
(3) The will of God is done in heaven with all possible prostration, reverence, and humility.
(4) The will of God is done in heaven with constancy and perseverance.
Parallel VersesKJV: And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.