Thy Kingdom, Thy Will

The second and third petitions of the Lord’s Prayer are “Thy kingdom come” and “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

What does it mean to pray for the coming of God’s Kingdom? We are essentially praying three things: that the Father would send the kingdom of glory (that Jesus would return); that he would crush the kingdom of darkness (putting an end to the lies of the devil and the evil in this world); and, that he would extend the kingdom of grace (that God would add each day to the number of those being saved.) This aspect of the Lord’s Prayer reminds me to ask God every morning that he would give me an opportunity to talk to someone that day about Jesus. It also prompts me to pray by name for the salvation of individuals who are still not trusting and following Christ.

What does it mean to pray for God’s will to be done? We mean different things when we talk about God’s will. Theologians sometimes refer God’s “will of decree” and God’s “will of command.” God’s will of decree refers to all the events that God has ordained to take place in this world. God’s will of command refers to the precepts God has called us to obey. Imagine a drunk driver causes a traffic fatality. Was this God’s will? Yes and no. In one sense, God’s will (his will of decree) was being fulfilled, since even tragedies are mysteriously part of his plan (Gen. 50:20; Job 1:21; Ps. 139:16; Isa. 45:7; Amos 3:6). In another sense, God’s will (his will of command) was being violated. The driver disobeyed God will, because Scripture condemns drunkenness and forbids the reckless endangering of life.

When we pray for God’s will to be done, we asking the Father to help us accept his will of decree and follow his will of command. We are acknowledging God’s rightful ownership over the world and over our lives, and submitting to whatever he has planned for us. We are also asking his Holy Spirit to change our character to be more like Christ’s. The Heidelberg Catechism says, “’Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’ means: Help us and all people to reject our own wills and to obey your will without any back talk. Your will alone is good. Help us one and all to carry out the work we are called to, as willingly and faithfully as the angels in heaven.”