Text: Matthew 6:10

Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.


How many times did you become frustrated this past week? Were you frustrated more times than you care to remember? After a week of frustrations what a blessing it is to go to God’s house where he is present and his Word is proclaimed faithfully in its truth and purity. There you can find an unchanging refuge amid this hectic changing world! In such a house of God his love and mercy in Christ is proclaimed for your salvation to lift up your heart and to restore your spirit.

The cause of our weekly frustrations is simple: our will is not done. From week to week we make our plans and are set to carry them out. Other people or situations, however, interfere with our plans and prevent them from being carried out. This frustrates us. The more desires, plans, and goals we have, the more often they are thwarted and the more often we become frustrated. What is more, the more intense our will is to fulfill our plans, the more intense our frustration when our plans are thwarted.

From week to week our thoughts center generally on what is our will. How often do we think about what is God’s will, however? Do we know what his will is? Do we know how it is done? Do we understand who tries to frustrate it on the one hand, and on the other hand who does his will? We will discover the answers to these questions in this sermon on The Third Petition of the Lord’s Prayer. It asks that God’s enemies who try to frustrate his will would be thwarted while we ourselves would imitate the angels in fulfilling his will.

Jesus taught us to ask our heavenly Father, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Our Father in heaven has a most blessed, gracious, and holy will. It has our welfare and salvation at heart. His will can be summarized in three parts. First, his will is that his Word would be proclaimed in its truth and purity to all people. Second, his will is that all people would believe his Word and be saved. Third, his will is that we would lead holy lives according to his Word.

God’s will is that his Word would be taught in its truth and purity to all people. He says, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” He has also said that the one who has his word must speak it faithfully. When this faithful proclamation of his Word to all people is done, his name is hallowed and his kingdom comes. God’s will for us, then, is that we carry on the gospel ministry he has given us within and without our church.

God’s will is also that all people would believe his Word and be saved. 1 Timothy 2:4 says, “God our Savior desires all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” God also says in Ezekiel 18:32, “ 'I take no delight in the death of anyone who dies,' declares the Lord God.  So repent and live!' ” When people believe his Word for their salvation, then his kingdom comes. God’s will, then, is that we and many others would believe his Word which is preached for our salvation.

God’s will is that we lead holy lives according to his Word. The Scriptures state that God's will is that we should be sanctified and live lives that are pleasing to God. When we lead holy lives according to his Word, then his name is hallowed.

These are the things we ask for in this petition. When we pray the third petition, we are at the same time asking that the first two petitions be done, that his name be hallowed and his kingdom come.

The address and first two petitions taught us the blessings which are ours as the beloved children of God. God is our dear Father and we are his dear children. We therefore can come to him with our requests, knowing he will answer our prayers. He has blessed us with the preaching of his Word, in this way bringing his kingdom to us who believe in Jesus Christ and are saved. To preserve these blessings among us, we continue praying “Your will be done.” We offer up this prayer because God’s enemies are trying to rob us of these blessings and are trying to thwart this will of God.

These enemies of God and of us believers are the gruesome threesome--the devil , the world, and our own sinful natures. The devil is our enemy. He tries to deceive us into accepting false beliefs, just as he deceived Eve, so we end up in hell with him. In 2 Corinthians 11:3 Paul warns us, “I am afraid, lest in some way, as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your minds may be led astray from your sincerity and purity of devotion to Christ. The devil has been very successful in deceiving the people of this world. He has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so they cannot see the light of the gospel of Christ, as Paul stated in 2 Corinthians 4:3, 4: “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled in those who are perishing, in whom the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, so they do not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” The devil aims to deceive us with his falsehoods, and together with the world and our own sinful natures, lead us into sin. These enemies are constantly trying to undermine the will of God among us.

As penitent sinners we will admit to ourselves and to our Father that these enemies have been all too successful in leading us astray. We have not always done God’s will. We have broken his every commandment in thought, word, or deed. Our many sins have made us subject to eternal punishment.

Therefore we pray “Your will be done,” for God’s will is that we should not perish but believe the gospel of Jesus so we may be saved from the punishment we deserve for our sins. God takes no pleasure in our eternal punishment in hell. He desires that we repent of our sins and believe in Jesus, who suffered our punishment for us while on the cross. His death in payment of our sins purchased our forgiveness and secured God’s peace with us. Through Jesus God gives us salvation and life in his kingdom of glory. Thus we ask with the third petition, “Your will be done,” that the second petition may be done for us--namely that our Father’s kingdom of grace would come to us so we believe in Jesus and obtain the salvation of our bodies and souls in heaven.

The enemies of God do not want us to proclaim this gracious Word of God. Nor do they want us to believe the gospel of Jesus for our eternal salvation and to then lead holy lives. Their will is that we turn from the gospel of Jesus to unbelief and sin, so we will be destroyed eternally. With the third petition we therefore pray that God’s will, not the will of these enemies, would be done. We ask our dear Father to block, hinder, obstruct, thwart and frustrate their will and plans, so that his will can be done with us.

To accomplish his will and to frustrate the will of these enemies, we ask our Father not to permit them to mislead us into false beliefs and sins. To thwart them we request that he would strengthen our faith, keep us in the faith, and bring forth our fruits of faith in holy lives so that we may do his will on earth as it is done in heaven.

In heaven God’s will is done perfectly. God himself carries out his will as he wishes. Psalm 115:3 tells us: “Now our God is in heaven, he does all that he desires.” He works out everything according to his will.

Our Father’s holy angels obey his word and also do his will in heaven perfectly. Concerning his angels Psalm 103:20, 21 state: “Bless the Lord, you his angels, you powers of strength who carry out his word, to obey the voice of his word. Bless the Lord, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will. When we pray, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” we ask our Father to enable us to be like his holy angels and to imitate them in doing his will perfectly.

In recent years much ado has been made of the angels. Much of what has been said, however, is erroneous, and quite frankly, has been about, not the holy angels, but the evil angels--the demons who masquerade as angels of light. People have been idolizing the angels and falling into the sin of angelolatry. They have been elevating the angels above God and putting their hopes in the angels rather than in God. We need to heed the warning of Paul who wrote in Colossians 2:18 not to let anyone who delights in the worship of angels to disqualify us for the prize of eternal life in heaven. People have gone so far as to hope that they will become angels when they die, which does not happen.

With the third petition we pray that we would become like the angels, not in the sense of becoming angelic spirits ourselves, but angel-like in our hearts and behavior. The heavenly angels are an example to us of how we should walk with God and gladly do his will from our hearts, that his will may be done among us on earth as it is done among his angels in heaven. We pray that our Father would enable us to be like his angels, so that his will will be our will and that we will do only what is his will.

In this endeavor to do our Father’s will the angels cheer us on, like the crowd of spectators that they are, who see our every move. When we turn from our sins to do the will of our Father, the angels rejoice. They rejoice over every sinner who repents. The angels are pulling for us, desiring to see us walk with God as they do.

These angels, who root for us to walk in the ways of God, are our guardian angels. They are holy. Sin offends them. If our guardian angels should see us committing sin, our sin offends them and drives them away. They do not guard and protect us so we can do evil. They withdraw from us to let us suffer whatever calamity our sin may bring to us, lest they interfere with God’s holy will. This is one more reason we will desire to do our Father’s will, lest we offend and drive away our guardian angels, who are watching over us and cheering us on in the ways of God.

Perhaps we have thought about becoming like the angels. While we cannot become angelic spirits ourselves, by our Father’s grace and converting power we can become angel-like in our hearts and wills. For this we pray when we say, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Then, like the angels, we also can do his good and gracious will, which has our welfare and salvation at heart. Amen.