Beckett: “Thy Will Be Done” – What is God’s Will?

“Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” How is God’s will done? “God’s will is done when He breaks and hinders every evil plan and purpose of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature, which do not want us to hallow God’s name or let His kingdom come; and when He strengthens and keeps us firm in His Word and faith until we die. This is His good and gracious will” (SC, The Third Petition).

Every Christian wonders what God’s will for their life is. They go on this long, uncertain journey to “discover” God’s will for their lives. Many books have been written about it, such as Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life that is entirely inward focused rather than Christ-focused. You need not go farther than the Scriptures, indeed, the Lord’s Prayer. For in this prayer, we find the entirety of God’s will that He promises to give us: to hallow His name on our lips, His kingdom come to us, that He give us our daily bread (and therefore the vocations He has given you to assist others in this manner is His will for your life), that He give us forgiveness of sins, lead us not into temptation, and deliver us from evil. Indeed, these are simple things, and we care more about grander things such as, “What is God’s will for my career? Who does He want me to marry?” And so on. These are up to you. We don’t believe in fate; God has not fated you to fall into this or that career or to marry that specific person (no one has a “soul mate”). He’s blessed you with a complex, intelligent brain. Use it.

What about when our sinful nature, the world, and the devil do accomplish their evil plans and purposes? Is that still God’s will? The Book of Job shows us that all evil—even the evil will of the devil—serves God’s good and gracious will. It is not that God causes evil, but that even when it happens, it can only go so far as God allows. The Scriptures present the devil as a dog on a leash. Not only can he only go as far as God allows, but even his wickedness is used for God’s glory, even Job’s, for in the end Job was immensely more blessed than before he had suffered. Perhaps this is why St. John Chrysostom said, “God does not forsake you. It is because He wishes to increase your glory that oftentimes He permits you to fall sick.” For just as Christ was glorified in His resurrection after He suffered and died, so we too shall be glorified in a resurrection just like His since we have been baptised into His death and resurrection (Romans 6:3-5).

Yet even though evil itself must obey God’s will, this does not make evil good. For the devil does not want us to believe in Christ or His Word. The world wants us to ascribe all glory to ourselves (sacred autonomy) rather than to God. And our own sinful nature wants us to believe we are the god of our own lives rather than God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Therefore, let us pray this prayer continually—and furthermore, be perpetual students of the Catechism—lest we give our sinful nature, the world, and the devil our consent to have their way with us.


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