What do we pray for in the third petition?


That people on earth may serve God as the angels do in heaven.

The third petition of the Lord's Prayer is “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matt. 6:10) A person’s “will” is what they want to be done. For instance, if you said, “Hey, I’m going to the ice cream shop. Want me to get anything for you?” my will would be for you to get me a double scoop of chocolate chip cookie dough in a waffle cone. For my will to be done, you’d need to get me exactly what I asked for. If you came back with a banana split with rainbow sprinkles instead, you would not have done my will – and I probably wouldn’t be too happy about it!

Now, the third petition of the Lord's Prayer is not about my will for ice cream. It's about God's will for how we should live! And we don't have to guess what God's will is for us. It’s no big mystery. God has made his will pretty clear through his God-breathed Word.The commands we read in our Bibles reveal God's will for our lives. They tell us exactly how he wants us to live. To put it very simply, God's will for us is love! He first wants us to love him with all of our hearts. Along with that, his will for us is to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. If we want more specific examples of how we should love God or love people, we have the Ten Commandments to spell it out for us. They describe ten different ways that we can love God and love people. They show us God’s will for our lives.

But God’s given us much more than just the Ten Commandments to explain how he wants us to live. The Bible is chock full of little bits of God’s will for us. Here are a couple of examples: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thes. 5:18) “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality.” (1 Thes. 4:3)

When you pray, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” understand that you are asking God to help you and those around you do his will, to do what he wants us to do. We’re asking God to help us obey his commands as closely as the angels obey him in heaven! For an example of how to use the third petition like a checklist, you could go through the Ten Commandments, one at a time, and ask God to help you, your parents, your friends, or anyone else obey them!


+ One way to pray this petition is to pray through the Ten Commandments, asking God to help you obey each one. Read through these commandments in Exodus 20 and practice turning each one into a prayer.


Ps. 67; 103:19-22; John 9:31; Rev. 4:11

© 2023 Andrew Doane. All rights reserved.