I figured these two parts went together. The latter makes sense in the light of the former and I wanted to have them together as the former is meant to tie in with the latter as well. We can study “Thy will be done” and understand that, but it seems devoid of context unless we add in “On Earth as it is in Heaven.”
Thy Will be Done. What does that mean? We know it was what Jesus prayed in the garden. What was he praying for? In this case, it was the sovereign will. The sovereign will of God is that which is going to happen regardless of what we do. This includes the fulfillment of prophecy. God knows it will happen and so it will happen. This doesn’t mean God’s knowledge is the cause of it happening. I believe men choose what they will do and God knows in advance and so prophecy always comes true.
When we pray for God’s sovereign will to be done, it doesn’t mean that we are praying that it will happen. It certainly will! We are praying saying that whatever is to happen, we submit to it for we know it came from his hand. It is his blessing and we are relinquishing our role of God in the universe and accepting his salvation.
There is another aspect though of God’s will being done and that is his moral will. When Paul tells us in Romans 12 that we are to renew our minds so that we may know the will of God, he is not talking about the sovereign will of God. Unless you’re a prophet who has had it revealed, which I doubt, or unless you read it in Scripture, you cannot know that until it happens.
You are to pray to know his moral will. Now I do believe that there are some aspects of the moral will which are obvious and this fits in with natural law theory. It is obvious that murder is wrong and rape is wrong. It is obvious that you should love your neighbor as yourself. There are some issues though that because of our fallen nature are less than crystal clear. What are you to do in X situation to do the will of God?
It is also the case of not only knowing the will but also acting on it. For us, a lot of times, we know the right thing to do, but we just don’t want to do it. We’re quite good at rationalizing away actions that we know are wrong for a good reason. This is the idea we have today of the end justifying the means. “Oh I can do this. It’s going to have a good result!” Let us keep in mind what is said in Romans 3 about those who say “Let us do evil that good may result.” Their condemnation is deserved.
We are to seek wisdom for making these wise decisions, which is what a passage like James 1:5 is really talking about, contrary to Mormon assertions. James is talking about wisdom in the face of suffering and living right. He is not talking about getting answers to questions about which religion is the right one. This is also why those who pray should make sure they study Scripture and vice-versa. Proverbs was written for this purpose and it is our loss if we miss it.
In the ancient worldview, wisdom was seen as a virtue. It wasn’t just knowledge, but the right application of knowledge. If you have all knowledge, but have not love, as Paul says, what good is it? If you have knowledge but do not know the proper way to use it for the good of the world and the sake of the gospel, so what?
Of course, this doesn’t mean just knowledge about God. It means all knowledge. It means philosophical knowledge. It means scientific knowledge. It means mathematical knowledge. It means aesthetic knowledge. Whatever kind of knowledge you can think of, it is to be used for the good of the world.
Have that wisdom though to use that knowledge rightly. We live in an age where people think knowing something is enough. Knowledge is good. Knowledge with wisdom is better. This is why I make it a point to pray for knowledge and wisdom every night that I might live the way I ought and teach as I ought. Pray for it for me and yourselves as well.