"Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth."—Matt.
HE will of a man is the power by which he
determines his actions, and decides what he is to do or not to do. In it is manifested his hidden, inward being, proving what his desires and dispositions are, foolish or wise, good or evil. The will is the revelation of character and life. What a man truly wills, he will infallibly seek to have done, either by himself or through others.
In the will of God we have the perfect expression of His Divine perfection. Because He is a fountain of all beauty and blessedness, His will is inconceivably beautiful and blessed. In it His Divine wisdom and goodness make themselves known. Through it alone the creature
can know his God; in accepting and doing that will he finds the only and the sure way to fellowship and union with God.
The glory and the blessedness of heaven consist in nothing but this, that God's will is done there in and by alL There is nothing to hinder God's working freely and fully all His blessed will in its countless hosts. To all that He wills for them of goodness and blessedness and service their whole being is surrendered in submission and adoration. God lives in them and they in God. They are filled with the fulness of God.
In the Lord's Prayer our Blessed Master teaches us to come to the Father with the wonderful petition, that His will may be done on earth, even as in heaven! He calls us to open our hearts, to think and lift them heavenwards in real desire and prayer. He bids us count upon an answer, and, according to the power that worketh in us, expect the experience in such measure as we are fitted for: God's will done in us and by us, on earth, as it is in heaven. The God who works it in heaven—is our Father, who delights to work it on earth. The blessedness of earth cannot possibly be other than that of heaven: let our hearts desire and delight to have the will of God done.
Thy will he done, as in heaven, so on earth! These chapters invite you to come and meditate on this petition, if so be the Father may, by His Holy Spirit, show you the Divine beauty of His will, and the altogether heavenly blessedness of living in it. Let us begin by considering what God's will includes, that we may know aright what our Lord means and what we are to expect, when we pray: Thy will be done!
There is, first, the will of God's holy Providence. Everything that happens on earth comes to the child of God as the will of His Father. In His infinite wisdom God so overrules all the evil of men and devils, that in permitting it, He can take it up into His will, and make it work out His purposes. Joseph says of the sin of his brethren: "Ye thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good." Jesus said to Pilate: "Thou couldest have no power against Me except it were given thee from above." In everything that came on Him, He saw God's will: it was all the cup the Father gave Him. It is when the Christian learns to see God's will in everything that comes to him, grievous or pleasing, great or small, that the prayer, Thy will be done, will become the unceasing expression of adoring submission and praise. The whole world, with its dark mysteries, and life, with all its difficulties, will be illumined with the light of God's presence and rule. And the soul will taste the rest and the bliss of knowing that it is every moment encircled and watched over by God's will, that nothing can separate it from the Love of which the will is the expression. Happy the Christian who receives everything in Providence as the will of His Father.
There is, next, the will of God's righteous Precepts. Every command of our Father in heaven is a ray of the Divine will, radiant, to the eye that can see it, with all the perfection of the Divine nature. It comes as a proof of the Divine condescension, tenderly accommodating itself to our feebleness, as it puts the Divine will into human words, suited to our special capacity and circumstances. We all naturally connect the rays of light on earth with the sun from which they come. The more the Christian learns to link every precept with the Infinite Will of Love whence it comes, the more will he see the nobility and the joy of a life of entire obedience, the privilege and the honour of carrying out in human forms the perfect will of the Father in heaven. He then learns to say of God's precepts what first appeared too high: They are the rejoicing of my heart. And, Thy will be done, as in heaven, becomes the secret inspiration of a glad fulfilment of all God's commands.
Then comes—the will of God's precious Promises. We often fail in the power of grasping or holding some promise, of which we fain would have the comfort, because we deal with it as a fragment, and do not connect it with the great whole of God's blessed will for us. Let every believer seek earnestly to realise what God's will in His promises is. It is His determination to do a certain thing, His engagement to do it for or in me, if I will trust Him. Behind the promise there is the faithful Almighty God waiting to fulfil it. What a strength it would give in prayer, what a confidence in expectation, to be quiet, and trace the promise to the Living Will, the Loving Heart, that wills to make it true to everyone that yields himself in trust and dependence. As, Thy will be done, in view of God's Providence, was the language of a glad submission, in view of His Precepts, the surrender to a full obedience, so here, in relation to the Promises, it becomes the song of an assured hope. Thy Will will be done, by Thyself in us, 0 our "Father in heaven.
One thought more—there is the will of God's Eternal Purpose. Our view of God's will in His Providence, His Precepts, His Promises, is often very much confined to ourselves. The believer, who through these longs to enter fully into all the will of God, will be led on into a wider and a deeper insight into the glory of its counsels. He will learn something of that Great Purpose which filled the heart of God from Eternity, which reveals nothing less than the triumph of God's Eedeeming Love in a world of sin. As he is led by the Holy Spirit into the great counsels of redemption, into the meaning of the sacrifice by which God has sought to accomplish them, of the patience with which He is working out His plans, and the final triumph which is so sure and so glorious, he feels how little he has realised his position or the meaning of this prayer. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth! becomes the expression of his fellowship with God in His wondrous carrying out of His everlasting counsel of grace, of his intercession on behalf of a perishing world, of his joyful anticipation of all flesh seeing the glory of God. He feels himself as a mote floating in the sunlight of God's presence. He knows himself an instrument, a vessel, a member of the body of Christ, through which God's glory is working out His perfect will.
Believer, come and listen. This prayer needs your whole heart. It needs the teaching, yea, the indwelling of Jesus Christ in the heart, to be able to pray it aright. It calls for a heart, a will, a life, entirely given up to the Father in heaven, by His Spirit dwelling in us, to understand it aright. Let the glory of God doing His will in us and through us be met by nothing less than a will wholly given up to do His will on earth as it is done in heaven. Study how God's will is done in heaven. Yield yourself to do it even so on earth.