Friday, June 5, 2009

Thy Will Be Done On Earth As It Is In Heaven

In his fourth discourse on the Lord’s Prayer Saint Gregory of Nyssa addresses the part of the Prayer which reads, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” He points out that our condition is such that our “desirous part” has become dominant. By this he means our strivings for self-gratification and self-protection, commonly called the passions. He views this as a sickness of the soul which needs to be healed. When we pray, “Thy will be done,” we pray as if we are in dire need of a cure from a serious ailment. We are actively seeking the will of God to come and to restore our spiritual health for our salvation.

When we say “Thy will be done” we must of necessity condemn all conduct that is lived outside of God’s will. We have to first accept this errant conduct in ourselves. We are in effect asking contritely for the Lord to take pity on our lostness and to grant that, finally, “Your will be done” in me. We are recognizing the need for a helper to lift us out of our sick condition. It is as Paul says, “Because Your will is prudent conduct, but I am carnal, sold under sin (Rom 7:14) we need Your help God. We are asking “may the will toward the good be accomplished in us by His power. The word ”will” embraces all the virtues and all the virtues associated with the “good” are embraced by God.

But why is there added “on earth as it is in heaven”? Saint Gregory points out that all rational creation is divided into bodiless and bodily terms. The bodiless is angelic in nature while bodily is human in nature. God did not intend a separation of these two different realms. He desires mutual participation of both and this occurs only through the actions of humankind. We of necessity assume in the use of these words that the way of the heavenly powers is not mixed with evil and our sickness only came about though mankind’s withdrawal and self-separation from God beginning with the time of Adam and Eve. This prayer teaches us the need for us to purify our lives from evil in such a manner that God’s will may direct us without hindrance in the likeness of the heavenly way of life. In this way we can assure the mutual participation of the bodily and bodiless realms of God’s creation - life on earth lived as the angels live in heaven.

The Orthodox Way of life is all about our healing and obtaining this needed purification.

The Fourth Discourse can be found at this link.

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