THE THIRD PETITION.
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
In the foregoing articles or petitions we have prayed that God's name might be honored by us, and that his kingdom might prevail among us. In which two articles, all that pertains to the honor of God and to our salvation is wholly comprehended; so that we obtain God with all his blessings as our own. But here it is, indeed, equally necessary for us firmly to maintain these blessings, and not to suffer them to be torn away from us. For, as in a well constituted government, there must be, not only those who are occupied in its improvement and in the judicious administration of its laws, but those also who are engaged in defending, guarding, and firmly maintaining it; so also here, when we shall have prayed for the most necessary things, with respect to the Gospel, faith, and the Holy Spirit,– that he would rule over us, and liberate us from the power of Satan,– we must also pray that God would cause his will to be done. For, if we shall remain steadfast in it, many difficulties will arise, so that we must suffer many oppositions and privations on account of it, from all those who strive to impede and to subvert the two foregoing articles.
For no one easily believes how the devil strives against these things, who cannot endure any one to teach correctly or to believe sincerely; and it grieves him beyond measure, when he must suffer his falsehoods and abominable doctrines, trimmed with the fair pretext of the Divine name, to be divulged, and exposed to open shame, and besides, to be driven from the heart, and allow such a breach to be made in the walls of his kingdom. Therefore, he rages and raves like a furious foe, with all his power and might, arraying all his force, and calling to his aid the world and our own flesh, besides. For our flesh in itself is corrupt and prone to evil, even if we have embraced the Word of God, and believe it; and the world is extremely base and wicked: here he incites, instigates, and provokes oppositions, so as to impede and retard us, and finally to overthrow and subject us to hsi power again. All this is his will and the designs of his malignant breast, which he pursues day and night, and employs all the artifices, all the cunning ways and means which he is able to devise.
Wherefore, if we wish to be Christians, we must consider and be fully persuaded, that we shall have the devil with all his angels and the world as enemies, who shall cause us all kinds of misfortune and affliction. For wherever the Gospel is preached or received or believed, and brings forth fruit, there the holy cross must also be found. And let no one think that he will have peace, but he must hazard whatever he possesses on earth– his fortune and honor, his house and home, his wife and children, his body and life. Now, this severely grieves our flesh, that is, our old Adamic nature; for it is required of us to remain steadfast, and to bear with patience all persecution, and willingly yiekd what is forced away from us.
Therefore, as necessary as it is to pray incessantly in all other petitions, so necessary is it in this one to pray incessantly, "Thy will be done, beloved Father, not the will of the devil and our enemies, nor that of all those who persecute thy holy Word, and endeavor to suppress it, or to impede the progress of thy kingdom; and enable us to bear with patience and to overcome all that must be endured, so that our miserable flesh may not through weakness or sloth yield or turn back."
Behold, thus in these three petitions we find displayed in the most simple manner the requirements pertaining to God, yet all for our sake; for that which we implore has reference to ourselves– as already said, that the will of God may be done in us, which must be done out of us. For even as, without our prayer, his name must be sanctified, and his kingdom must come; so must also his will be done, and prevail, even if the devil with all his adherents strives and furiously rages against it, and undertakes to defeat the Gospel entirely. But for our own sake we must pray that his will may prevail among us also unobstructed, against this their rage, so that their efforts may be ineffectual, and that we may adhere firmly to it against all violence and persecution, and be entirely satisfied with this will of God.
Now, this prayer is to be our protection and defence to avert and overthrow all that the devil, the Pope, the bishops, tyrants, and heretics, are able to do in opposition to the Gospel. Let them all rage at once, and make their utmost endeavors, and devise ways and means for the purpose of oppressing and subverting us, so that their will and counsel may prosper; and in opposition to these, one single Christian or two with this single petition, shall be our fortress against which they may run and wreck themselves. For we have this consolation and confidence, that the will and designs of the devil and of all our enemies must be suppressed, and vanish away, no matter how arrogantly, securely, and strongly they may confide in them. For if their will were not effectually defeated, the kingdom of God could not remain on earth, nor could his name be hallowed.