Annotations to the Heidelberg Catechism - Lord's Day 49
Lord's Day 49
What is the third petition?
Thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Grant that we and all men
may deny our own will,
and without any murmuring
obey Thy will,
for it alone is good.
Grant also that everyone
may carry out the duties
of his office and calling
as willingly and faithfully
as the angels in heaven.
Q. & A. 124 Thy Will Be Done, on Earth as It Is in Heaven
- When we speak of God's will, we can think of his hidden will, or eternal counsel, by which the Lord determines what will happen to us, and of the Lord's revealed will, by which he tells us what we must do. This revealed will is made known to us (a) by the Word, and (b) by God's guidance in our lives. For by this guidance the Lord shows us our place and thereby also our task.
This petition refers to God's revealed will, his commandment. For the addition, “on earth as it is in heaven,” presupposes that God's will is done in heaven, but not yet on earth. That cannot be said of God's counsel. It is done just as punctually on earth as in heaven. However, his command is not opposed in heaven, but is opposed here on earth.
Also this petition is not a wish: May what Thou wilt be done; but a plea: Grant that we and all men obey Thy commandment and fulfil and do Thy revealed will.
- We ought not to think in this context about extraordinary things. The Catechism speaks beautifully about our office and calling. We must do God's will in them, in everyday life, as the Lord places it before us! And then we pray that we may do so as willingly and faithfully as the angels in heaven.
- We are totally incapable of fulfilling God's will. We are inclined to contradict God's will. His will seems to us harmful and wrong. Our will, which seeks our own glory, resists God's will. That is why the third petition also contains the plea: Grant that we deny our own will, that we renounce it and refuse to follow it, and that we do Thy will instead.
- This is the last of the first three (the “Thy”) petitions. Note how each successive petition flows from the one that precedes it. First: Hallowed be Thy Name. That is the main purpose which everyone who prays correctly has before him. If that purpose is to be achieved, then (second petition) God must be acknowledged as king. And to that end (third petition) it is necessary that his will be done.
- What are the possible meanings of God's “will”? How is God's command made known to us? What must we think of when we pray the third petition? Why? What do we ask in this petition?
- In what situations must God's will be done? How must this be done?
- What else does the third petition contain? Why?
- What is the relationship among the first three petitions?