In the first petition, we ask God that He would hallow His name among us, which means that He would preserve among us the pure doctrine of Scripture, and that as bearers of Christ’s name, Christians, we would live holy lives to His honor and glory. In the second petition, we ask that God would let His kingdom come, which means that through the Word and Sacraments, the Holy Spirit may come to us, creating and strengthening faith in our hearts and thus planting us in His kingdom, the that Spirit may create faith in the lost, and also that Christ come again soon to bring justice and bring His kingdom into eternal glory.
This is a lot that we ask for. And it is God’s will that we ask for it, and that He gives it to us. After all, He taught us to pray for these things specifically. And since God has recreated us in His image to align our wills with His, these first two petitions are desires of our will, too.
But there are three enemies that combat God’s will and the will of our new man. Those enemies are the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh. And these three try to get us to dishonor God’s name by believing false doctrine and living unholy lives. And the evil three try to lead us to keep God’s kingdom from coming to us by separating ourselves from the work of the Holy Spirit in Word and Sacrament, and to keep God’s kingdom coming to others by hindering the spreading and proclamation of God’s Word.
This is not good! Now, these enemies are limited in their power. Thanks be to God for that. They cannot undo the holiness of God’s name. It is holy in and of itself. These enemies cannot prevent the kingdom of God coming, for it comes even without our prayer. The gates of hell cannot prevail against His Church (Matthew 16:18).
But the dragon (the devil), enraged as he is against Christ’s Church, knows he cannot defeat the church, so he “makes war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus” (Rev. 12:17). And so the powerful devil, the wicked world and the sinful flesh strives against each one of us personally trying to destroy God’s good will for us in our lives. And this is where these enemies have had much success. Many have fallen to the lies and accusations of the devil. Many have become casualties of the culture war. Many have died spiritually because of their love of sin.
And so we pray, “Thy will be done!” We ask God to do it. We ask Him to perform it, because we can’t. Jesus, when He teaches us to pray this petition, teaches us that we do not have the power to make God’s will happen. As we sing in “A Mighty Fortress is our God,” “With might of our can naught be done, soon were our loss effected.” But then who do we look to? “But for us fights the valiant One, whom God Himself elected. Ask, ye, who is this? Jesus Christ it is, of Sabboth Lord, and there’s none other God. He holds the field forever.” God is the One to do it. God will destroy the efforts of the enemies. He will bring them to nothing. “[God] who has begun a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6). Christ paid the most priceless amount for you. He gave His holy and precious blood and His own life. He has won you for Himself and His kingdom. He is your champion who has destroyed your enemies and brought you from death to life. He didn’t just win salvation for you and then tell you, “Alright, you’re on your own now.” No, He continues His work of salvation in you, guarding and keeping you in it by the Holy Spirit. Jesus, with the Father, holds you in the palms of His hand, and He will crush all enemies who try to take you from Him.
And so, in order that we avoid being snatched up by the enemy in our weakness, we pray, “Thy will be done.” We find refuge in His Church, in His Word and Sacraments. There God powerfully guards us from our enemies. There, in His Word, He gives us rest and salvation. There, He accomplishes His good will for us. God grant it to each of His dear people at Hope. “Thy will be done.” Amen.