Not My Will, But Thine, Be Done

In the breaking of our will God’s will is done; for he wants to see our will hindered and broken. Therefore, if someone wants to reproach you or make a fool of you, do not oppose him, but say yes to him, deeming it right before God to do so, which, as a matter of fact, it is. If he wants to rob you of anything and work you harm, let him do it as though it were your just desert, for undoubtedly in God’s sight it is just. Even if your adversary is doing wrong thereby, you nevertheless are not suffering an injustice, for since everything belongs to God, it is his right to take it from you either through a good or an evil person. Your will must not resist, but must say, “Thy will be done.” This applies to all things, physical and spiritual. Christ says, “If anyone takes your coat, let him have your cloak as well” [Matt. 5:40]. But you may say, “If that is the meaning of ‘doing God’s will,’ who, then, can be saved? Who can fulfil this lofty commandment to the extent that he surrenders all things and has no will of his own?” This is my reply: You must learn how important and necessary this petition is, why we must pray it ardently and earnestly, and why it is important that our will be mortified and God’s will alone be done. Thus you must confess that you are a sinner who cannot do God’s will, who must petition God for help and mercy, to forgive your shortcomings, and to aid you in doing his will. It is imperative that if God’s will is to prevail, our will must be submerged, for these two are at war with each other. We can take an example from Christ, our Lord. When he asked his Father in the garden to remove the cup, he also added, “Not my will, but thine, be done” [Luke 22:42]. If Christ had to surrender his will, which after all was good, yes, undoubtedly and always the best, in order that God’s will be carried out, why should we poor little worms make such a fuss about our will, which is never free of evil and always deserves to be thwarted?

From “An Exposition Of The Lord’s Prayer For Simple Laymen” by Martin Luther (Volume 42, p. 45, Luther’s Works, Fortress Press, Philadelphia, 1969).

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