In this third petition of the Lord’s Prayer (“Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”), we are asking that we may obey God quickly and right away and that we might patiently submit to God’s will whether what happens is easy or hard. This must be understood in light of what we have already acknowledged about God. That He is our Father, our King, whose name we cherish and whose reputation we defend, and whose kingdom of grace and glory are dear to us and which we eagerly anticipate.
Now we are faced with a reasonable question: What is God’s will? The answer historic Christianity has always given to this question is that God’s will is what is revealed in the Scriptures as well as events or circumstances that are His secret decree. Thomas Watson believed that the Ten Commandments were a summary of God’s revealed will and a ruler we could use to measure our obedience. His view was that, after all, God wrote it in stone which implied its permanency and its usefulness for all time, not just for the nation of Israel during the time of Moses. He painted an image of a bird flying with the wind. Our obedience is to be like that bird and like the angels who fly swiftly to carry out God’s will.
This is a good image for you to use with the children. Look for birds flying with the wind. (We have been having gale winds all week. I’ve seen lots of birds speeding along with the wind!) In addition, give them a little help to obey swiftly and right away. Encourage them, help them so that they will transfer that kind of obedience to obeying God. The Shorter Catechism questions will help them (and you) to know how to obey these ten easy rules, not for their justification, but for their sanctification for “without holiness, no one will see the Lord.”
God accompanied the commandments with both blessings and threats to encourage our obedience. (See Deuteronomy 11:13-17.) We can do that with children. Rewards for obedience; consequences for disobedience. Be sure to make both your demands and the encouragements developmentally appropriate. Otherwise, you could cause hearts to harden to God and you. God is kind and careful with us. We should be to our children.
TYRANNY OF CIRCUMSTANCES?
We do not have to be ruled by our circumstances, only content when things are going our way. Instead, we are to patiently submit to God’s secret will whether things go well or hard for us. My, we do need to pray for this attitude, don’t we? Watson taught that to be Christian is not stoicism. That is just to bear up when you can’t do anything about it. That leaves God out of it altogether. But, to patiently submit to bad health, finances, pressing circumstances is to be content to be at God’s disposal and to trust in His wisdom. It is okay to cry, to pray for relief, but it is wrong to be sullen and angry. One remedy is to think about God in a right way. Look for His kindness, mercy, and love, and believe that this pressure is good for us in the long run. God is ever wise and determined to bring you to heaven, and on the way, to increase your holiness. Look at how Jesus prayed, “Father, if it be possible let this cup pass from Me, nevertheless, not My will but Thine be done.”
Martyn Lloyd-Jones in Spiritual Depression. said:
I do not know what you feel, but I say honestly and in the presence of God, that nothing gives me greater comfort and greater solace than this, to know I am in God’s hands, and that He so loves me and is determined upon my holiness and upon bringing me to heaven…”
Taking the time to come into God’s presence in the manner prescribed and modeled by our Lord Jesus Christ, evidently works in us this confident faith that whether things go as we wish or not, God is with us working all things out for our good and His glory. So let us pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” knowing we are asking that we might swiftly obey and have an attitude of patient submission however things may go.
(See Thomas Watson, The Lord’s Prayer, (Banneroftruth.org), p. 151-193 and D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression,Erdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, 19-65-76) p. 259-270.