Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Mat. 6:10
There is no more succinct way of expressing the dynamic union of heaven and earth than in Jesus’ petition to our Father that “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” It is a prayer that has absolute implications for all of creation as well as for the minutiae of our individual lives. Jean-Pierre de Caussade, a 17th century Jesuit spiritual director best summarized this petition when he wrote, “Let God’s will be done; that is the whole of Scripture, the universal law.”
God calls us to conform to the movement of His will. It is an imperative that comes not from an autocratic need on God’s part but from the loving hope the Creator has for His creatures. For it is only in submission to God’s movement that we ever fully become who we are. As de Caussade puts it, “saints become saints only by living the life to which they have been called.”
To apply this petition to ourselves—to say to God “Thy will be done in me as it is in heaven”—requires nothing short of the same type of obedience that Jesus demonstrated in His own life when he said, “Whatever I see the Father do I do” (Jn 5:19). Like Jesus, it is in our submission to the Spirit that God’s particular will becomes evident in our lives. De Caussade writes of the close relationship between our self-offering and God’s will being manifest.
Obedience to God’s undefined will depends entirely on our surrender to it, our preparedness to do anything, or nothing. Like a tool that, though it has no power in itself, when in the hands of the craftsman, can be used for any purpose within the range of its capacity and design. Such souls are like molten metal, filling whatever vessel God chooses to pour them into.
St. Frances de Sales, a spiritual director who lived a century earlier, also spoke of such fluidity in our submission. In his book, Introduction to the Devout Life, he writes,
We must always be rendering ourselves pliable and tractable to God’s good pleasure, as though we were wax. A hundred times during the day we should turn our gaze upon God’s loving will, making our own will melt into it.
We also have the contemporary example of Mother Teresa who sought to live her life in perfect submission to God’s will. Far from passive, such obedience requires the greatest degree of self-control and spiritual focus in its offering. Mother Teresa speaks of the progressive maturity that a life of submissiveness will entail. She writes,
The first duty required of souls is self-discipline; the second is self-surrender; the third requires great humility, a humble and willing disposition and a readiness to follow the movement of grace which motivates everything if we simply respond willingly to all its guidance.
These are people who know, each in their own way, what it means to intentionally submit their will to God’s. And they have all, as de Caussade suggested, become who they are, and born such a wonderful influence on life, as the direct result of their desire for God’s will to be done in them as it is in heaven.
The prayer within all prayer is “Thy will be done.” My prayer is Thy Will. Thou didst create it in me. It is more Thine than mine.