Updated:- Sunday, November 19th, 2023
What is the Meaning of Thy Will Be Done in The Lord’s Prayer?
The phrase, thy will be done occurs three times in the Bible. On each occasion, Jesus was either praying or explaining a prayer format to his disciples.
However, the notion behind it and its occurrences traverse this great Book!
Consequently, it is not limited to prayer for it encompasses every area of our lives.
So, let’s start by showing what the Bible means by this popular phrase.
The Apostle Matthew records two of these instances and the Apostle Luke is the only other disciple to use the phrase, thy will be done.
“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”Matthew 6:10
What is the Will of God in the Lord’s Prayer?
What does this mean? I have also written about this. Therefore, you should click the link and read what the Holy Bible means when it talks about the will of God, then return to this page.
Later, sometime before his crucifixion, Jesus prayed twice, saying the same words.
“He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done” .(Matthew 26:42)
The desire of the Lord in the Scripture quotation immediately above is different from that mentioned in Matthew 6:10.
The will of God in this latter reference relates to all humanity; whereas, Matthew 26:42 refers to Jesus alone.
What Does It Mean To Pray – Thy Will Be Done?
According to Matthew 26:42, Jesus was praying about him accomplishing the will of God; the will of His Father.
In other words, he was stating, Father, I will do your will. If dying is the only way to accomplish it, then it is already done!
On the other hand, in Matthew 6:10 he was praying for the convergence of the will of God in heaven and in the earth.
His will is always done in heaven. But not on the earth. Here, His will is not always done and not by everyone (in heaven “everyone” does His will).
He desires that both heaven and earth would reflect His will.
Nevertheless, Apostle Luke, or the Beloved Physician, captures the final usage of “thy will be done” in the Bible.
“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.”(Luke 11:2)
Thus, his version of it collaborates with Matthew’s teaching on the subject.
As I explained, in one of my previous Bible Studies, Jesus’ “Our Father Prayer” is really not a prayer but a format to pray or a prayer template.
It’s not really a prayer! I know this has shocked you, but read or watch it by clicking this link!
I have expounded the reasons for this elsewhere on this website and I’ll not duplicate them here.
When we understand “what the will of the Lord is”, then we shall understand “thy will be done”, and we shall also know why Jesus taught that we should pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Ephesians 5:17)?
A Prayer for God’s Will to Be Done
To exemplify who knows the will of God and at what time, let’s retreat to the Old Testament (OT).
Earlier, I wrote that while the general will of God, towards humanity, is the same, each situation has its own unique will of God attached to it.
Nobody reflects this more perfectly than Jonah.
The Lord explained His will to him. But instead of him seeking to do the Lord’s bidding, he decided to run away.
Earlier, I also wrote that when we consider the will of God, we should always understand it through His eyes.
Because there are no gods above Him. None greater!
Why Should We Pray For The Will of God to be Done?
Seeing that the Lord is all-powerful and His will comes true regardless of what we do, then why should we pray for His will to be done?
We are not merely praying for His will be done. But that it should be done on the earth now as its being done in heaven right now (Matthew 6:10).
These are not identical desires. More on this later!
How to Seek God’s Will and Not Your Own?
Christians don’t discern the will of God. We know it! The Bible explains it.
Similarly, we don’t pray and seek God’s will. We do it!
It is one of two things, either we know it or we don’t. If we know it we will understand it.
Christians know God’s desire for us in every area of our lives because He tells us about them.
We are aware of it in our:
- Mental Health
- And I could go on because He told us about them in His Word, the Bible.
Believers know them. The world doesn’t know them but we know them!
Back to Jonah. The Lord expressed His will to him.
He instructed him,
“Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.”Jonah 1:2
This is God’s will for Jonah. And his job is to do the will of God.
Note too, how Jonah didn’t discern, seek, or pray for the will of God.
How Does The Holy Spirit Help Us Understand Thy Will Be Done?
He knew it! Because the Lord told Him.
“Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai.” Jonah 1:1
Like Jonah, we also know the will of God through our knowledge of His Word and the revelation of the Holy Ghost!
Click this link to learn, how to know the desires of God.
One would have taught that Jonah, a prophet of God, would know that he couldn’t run away from the sovereign Lord God.
Who could run away from the presence of the Lord? No one; He’s everywhere!
But Jonah didn’t take that into account. Instead, he headed in the opposite direction from his assignment.
Then the Lord disturbed the sea and the sailors tossed Jonah overboard.
Soon, the seas ceased her raging.
“Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah.”Jonah 1:17
He was in the fish’s belly for three days and three nights. Then the Lord commanded the fish and it vomited Jonah on dry land (Jonah 2:10).
Now, I could only think of one fish with that volume of water and force to propel Jonah onto “dry land”; the blue whale!
What Does the Bible Say About Thy Will Be Done?
So, the Lord turned Jonah around and placed him on track to accomplish His will.
“And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying.”Jonah 3:1
“Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.”Jonah 3:2
Observe, in the Scripture immediately above, that the Lord tells Jonah exactly what to preach to the Ninevites!
“So, Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey.”Jonah 3:3
Again, I declare that we know the will of God. Jonah knew it!
So, eventually, he did the will of God and he accomplished it with haste and attitude!
“And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.”Jonah 3: 4
Consequently, when the Bible speaks of thy will be done, we see that the Ninevites exemplified this perfectly.
Sixty Thousand People Did Thy Will Be Done!
They did the desire of the Lord. They believed and obeyed His commands by His prophet Jonah.
“So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.”Jonah 3: 5
This wholesale and corporate move on the part of the Ninevites touched God. It moved Him and pleased Him. So, He changed His mind.
He no longer desires to destroy them because they did His will.
But that was not the case with this prophet of God. He was “very angry” (Jonah 4:1).
He was mad because he had preached to the people and they had changed. They repented and turned to God.
This angered him. He wanted God to destroy them!
But our God is full of mercy! He’s merciful!
We Need a Thy Will Be Done Attitude!
Let’s look at a few object lessons we should take away from the Nineveh experience.
First, thy will be done (in essence) should mean, to us, Lord it is already done!
This was the attitude of Jesus when he prayed in the Garden, (Matthew 26:42).
Second, the phrase, “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” is different from “thy will be done” (Matthew 6:10; Luke 11:2).
The former speaks of God’s will for humanity. He desires that it would manifest “in earth” as it is happening “in heaven” right now.
Whereas, the latter is a case-by-case scenario. Jesus said those words because that was his burden to bear.
However, Jonah could easily have said the same words too. But he chose another route.
Additionally, in the Nineveh experience, the Lord was teaching us how to recognize His will.
Eventually, after the Lord educated Jonah in this area, he came around to the same awareness, as Jesus in the Garden, concerning the desires of the Lord.
They Had Personal Encounters With The Lord
Third, before the first Advent of Jesus Christ, all the Prophets of God, and the Fore Fathers of Israel, had a one-and-one encounter with the Lord God.
In those encounters, the Lord explicitly told them His Will, then they went ahead and do it.
They all had thy will be done attitudes.
Similarly, before Christ, the Lord would influence the situation.
This, He achieved by operating through the elements to “force” his prophets or people to do His will.
We see this in Jonah’s narrative.
First, “the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea so that the ship was like to be broken” (Jonah 1:4).
Then, “Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights” (Jonah 1:17).
Observe The Mighty Hand of God In All That This Man Did
Next, we continue to see the mighty hands of God in all that Jonah did!
“And the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.”Jonah 2:10
Everywhere Jonah went and everything that he did the Lord predisposed it by coercing him into doing His will.
In other words, Jonah had no free will. He had to do what the Lord wanted because he had no options!
He could disobey but only for so long! So, really, he couldn’t disobey.
Jesus Ushered in a Paradigm of Free Will!
However, when Christ came, he changed that.
He ushered the world into a new paradigm.
The Lord no longer speaks to us by His prophets but by His Son, Jesus Christ.
“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets.”Hebrews 1:1
“Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.”Hebrews 1:2)
Therefore, if we do the will of the Son, we accomplish the will of the Father.
But the manner of the Son is different. He gives us an option. We could obey his words or disobey them.
We could choose to believe his words or not! He doesn’t override our free will by his mighty powers.
Similarly, he doesn’t influence our situations, Like His Father did to Jonah’s.
He tells us how he sees a person who hears his words and does them.
“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock” (Matthew 7:24).
“And the rain descended, and the floods came, ... the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock” (Matthew 7:25).
Are You Doing His Will?
On the other hand, he paints a picture of someone who hears his words and does not do them.
“… Everyone that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand” (Matthew 7:26).
“…The rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; ... it fell: and great was the fall of it” (Matthew 7:27).
However, whether we obey the will of Jesus or not, it has consequences.
Nevertheless, sometimes these consequences are not immediate. As such, many people don’t realize that what they experience has a direct relation to obeying or disobeying the Word of God.
Yet, it’s in this area that many Believers and Unbelievers stumble.
When we obey the Lord, the Devil can’t touch us unless He approves it.
The Deceiver has no legal or other rights to afflict or persecute us because we did the will of God.
In such a case, the Lord builds a spiritual “hedge around us” for our protection.
He did this for Job. And he does it for us too.
On the other hand, when we disobey the Lord Jesus, we expose ourselves.
We are vulnerable to anything that the Devil throws at us because we have no protective hedge from God.
When Things Get Bad
This is when sickness, disease, child abuse, rape, murder, accidents, and the entire arsenal of “works of the Devil” affects the Unbeliever or the ignorant Christian.
And you know what, many of us blame God for many of these things!
What humanity experiences on earth, happens because the “prince of the earth” runs the earth.
Not the Lord!
Is Thy Will Be Done Your Lifestyle?
Many Christian leaders are ignorant of the true will of God. Why?
Because they ignore the words of the Son of God and follow, do, and teach their own doctrines and not that of Jesus Christ.
But, later, they will experience the consequences of not doing the will of God.
He will say to them, depart from me you that work iniquity, I never knew you.
Finally, Jesus Christ came and gave us free will. Now, we can choose to disobey or not believe his words.
Neither he nor the Lord God will influence our situations to force us to do the will of the Father.
Yet, our disobedience empowers the Devil. It gives him the legal right to afflict us because we disobey the Son.
Our disobedience only delays our consequences. And should we die before we make it right with the Lord we will share eternity with Satan in the Lake of Fire?
In closing, obey Jesus today. Believe his words and do them and secure a future of worship of God.