The Lord's Prayer
by Thomas Watson
File 17
(... continued from file 16)

    (17) Consider how far in submissiveness of spirit is from that 
temper of soul which God requires in affliction! He would have us in 
patience possess our souls. Luke 21: 19, The Greek word for patience 
signifies to bear up under a burden without fainting or fretting; 
but is frowardness in affliction, and quarrelling with God's will, 
Christian patience? God would have us rejoice in affliction. 'Count 
it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations:' that is, 
afflictions; count it joy, be as birds that sing in winter. James 1: 
2. 'Having received the word in much affliction, with joy.' I Thess 
1: 6. Paul could leap in his fetters, and sing in the stocks. Acts 
16: 25. How far is a discontented soul from this frame! He is far 
from rejoicing in affliction that has not learned to submit. 
    (18) Consider what is it that makes the difference between a 
godly man and an ungodly man in affliction, but this, that the godly 
man submits to God's will, the ungodly man will not submit. A wicked 
man frets and fumes, and is like a wild bull in a net. In affliction 
he blasphemes God. 'Men were scorched with great heat, and 
blasphemed the name of God.' Rev 16: 9. Put a stone in the fire, and 
it flies in your face; so stony hearts fly in God's face. The more a 
stuff that is rotten is rubbed, the more it frets and tears. When 
God afflicts the sinner, he tears himself in anger, but a godly man 
is sweetly submissive to his will. His language is, 'Shall not I 
drink the cup which my Father has given me?' Spices when bruised, 
send out a sweet fragrant smell; so, when God bruises his saints, 
they send out the sweet perfume of patience. Servulus, a holy man, 
was long afflicted with the palsy, yet his ordinary speech was 
Laudatur Deus, let God be praised. Oh, let us say, 'Thy will be 
done;' let us bear that patiently which God inflicts justly, or how 
do we show our grace? What difference is there between us and the 
wicked in affliction? 
    (19) Consider that not to submit to God's providential will, is 
highly provoking to him. Can we anger him more than by quarrelling 
with him, and not let him have his will? Kings do not love to have 
their wills opposed, though they may be unjust. How ill does God 
take it, when we will be disputing against his righteous will? It is 
a sin which he cannot bear. 'How long shall I bear with this evil 
congregation which murmur against me?' Numb 14: 27. May not God 
justly say, How long shall I bear with this wicked person, who, when 
anything falls out cross, murmurs against me? 'Say unto them, As 
truly as I live, saith the Lord, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so 
will I do to you;' ver 28. God swears against a murmurer, 'As I 
live;' and what will he do as he lives? 'Your carcases shall fall in 
this wilderness;' ver 29. You see how provoking a discontented 
quarrelsome spirit is to God; it may cost men their lives, nay, 
their souls. God sent fiery serpents among the people for their 
murmuring. I Cor 10: 10. He may send worse than fiery serpents, he 
may send hell fire. 
    (20) Consider how much God bears at our hand, and shall not we 
be content to bear something at his hand? It would tire the patience 
of angels to bear with us one day. 'The Lord is long suffering to us- 
ward.' 2 Pet 3: 9. How often we offend in our eye by envious impure 
glances, and in our tongues by rash censuring, but God passes by 
many injuries, and bears with us! Should the Lord punish us every 
time we offend, he might draw his sword every day. Shall he bear so 
much at our hands, and can we bear with nothing at his hand? Shall 
he be patient with us, and we impatient with him? Shall he be meek, 
and we murmur? Shall he endure our sins, and shall not we endure his 
strokes? Oh, let us say, 'Thy will be done.' Lord, thou hast been 
the greatest sufferer, thou hast borne more from me than I can from 
    (21) Consider that submitting our wills to God in affliction 
disappoints Satan of his hope, and quite spoils his design. The 
devil's end is in all our afflictions to make us sin. The reason why 
Satan smote Job in his body and estate was to perplex his mind, and 
put him into a passion; he hoped that Job would have been 
discontented, and in a fit of anger, not only have cursed his 
birthday, but cursed his God. But Job, lying at God's feet, and 
blessing him in affliction, disappointed Satan of his hope, and 
quite spoiled his plot. Had Job murmured, he had pleased Satan; had 
he fallen into a heat, and sparks of his anger had flown about, the 
devil had warmed himself at the fire of Job's passion; but Job 
quietly submitted, and blessed God. Thus Satan's design was 
frustrated, and he missed his intent. The devil has often deceived 
us; the best way to deceive him is by quiet submission to God in all 
things, saying, 'Thy will be done.' 
    (22) Consider that to the godly the nature of affliction is 
quite changed. To a wicked man it is a curse, the rod is turned into 
a serpent; affliction to him is but an effect of God's displeasure, 
the beginning of sorrow, but the nature of affliction is quite 
changed to a believer; it is by divine chemistry turned into a 
blessing; it is like poison corrected, which becomes a medicine; it 
is a love token, a badge of adoption, a preparation for glory. 
Should not this make us say, 'Thy will be done'? The poison of the 
affliction is gone; it is not hurtful, but healing. This has made 
the saints not only patient in affliction, but send forth 
thankfulness. When bells have been cast into the fire, they 
afterwards make a sweeter sound; so the godly, after they have been 
cast into the fire of affliction, sound forth God's praise. 'It is 
good for me that I have been afflicted.' Psa 119: 7I. 'Blessed be 
the name of the Lord.' Job 1: 21. 
    (23) Consider how many good things we receive from God, and 
shall we not be content to receive some evil? 'Shall we receive good 
at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?' Job 2: 10. In 
the Hebrew, shall we receive good from God, and not evil? This may 
make us say, 'Thy will be done.' How many blessings have we received 
at the hand of God's bounty? We have been bemiracled with mercy. 
What sparing, preventing, delivering mercy have we had! The 
honeycomb of mercy has continually dropped upon us. His mercies 'are 
new every morning.' Lam 3: 23. Mercy comes in as constantly as the 
tide; nay, how many tides of mercies do we see in one day. We never 
feed, but mercy carves every bit to us; we never drink but in the 
golden cup of mercy; we never go abroad, but mercy sets a guard of 
angels about us; we never lie down in bed, but mercy draws the 
curtains of protection close about us. Shall we receive so many good 
things at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? Our 
mercies far outweigh our afflictions; for one affliction we have a 
thousand mercies. O then, let us submit to God, and say, 'Thy will 
be done.' The sea of God's mercy should swallow up a few drops of 
    (24) Consider that the conformity of our wills to God in 
affliction brings much honour to the gospel. An unsubmissive 
Christian reproaches religion, as if it were not able to subdue an 
unruly spirit. It is weak physic which cannot purge out ill humours; 
and sure it is a weak gospel if it cannot master our discontent, and 
martyr our wills. In submissiveness is a reproach, but a cheerful 
resignation of our will to God sets a crown of honour upon the head 
of religion, it shows the power of the gospel, which can charm down 
the passions, and melt the will into God's will; therefore in 
Scripture, submissive patience is brought in as an adorning grace. 
'Here is the patience of the saints.' Rev 14: 12. 
    (25) Consider the example of our Lord Jesus, how flexible and 
submissive was he to his Father! He who taught us this prayer, 'Thy 
will be done,' had learned it himself. Christ's will was perfectly 
tuned to his Father's will; it was the will of his Father that he 
should die for our sins, and he 'endured the cross.' Heb 12: 2. It 
was a painful, shameful, cursed death; he suffered the very pains of 
hell equivalently, yet he willingly submitted. 'He opened not his 
mouth:' he opened his side when the blood ran out, but he opened not 
his mouth in repining; his will was resolved into the will of his 
Father. Isa 53: 7. 'The cup which my Father has given me shall I not 
drink it?' John 18: 11. Now, the more our wills are subject to God's 
will in affliction, the nearer we come to Christ our pattern. Is it 
not our prayer that we may be like Christ? By holy submission we 
imitate him; his will was melted into his Father's will. 
    (26) Consider that to submit our wills to God, is the way to 
have our own will. Every one would be glad to have his will. The way 
to have our will is to resign it. God deals with us as we do with 
froward children, while we fret and quarrel, he will give us 
nothing, but when we are submissive, and say, 'Thy will be done,' he 
carves out mercy to us. The way to have our will is to submit to 
his. David brought his will to God's. 'Here am I, let him do to me 
as seemeth good unto him.' 2 Sam 15: 26. After he resigned his will 
he had his will. God brought him back to the ark and settled him 
again on his throne. 2 Sam 19. Many a parent who has had a dear 
child sick, when he could bring his will to part with it, has had 
his child restored. Nothing is lost by referring our will to God, 
the Lord takes it kindly from us, and it is the only way to have our 
    (27) Consider that we may the more cheerfully surrender our 
souls to God when we die, when we have surrendered our will to God 
while we live. Our blessed Saviour had all along submitted his will 
to God. There was but one will between God the Father and Christ. 
Christ in his lifetime having given up his will to his Father, at 
death cheerfully gave up his soul to him. 'Father, into thy hands I 
commend my spirit.' Luke 23: 46. You that resign up your wills to 
God, may at the hour of death comfortably bequeath your souls to 
    [2] The second means to bring our will to God in affliction is, 
to study his will. 
    (1) It is a sovereign will. He has a supreme right and dominion 
over his creatures, to dispose of them as he pleases. A man may do 
with his own as he lists. 'Is it not lawful for me to do what I will 
with mine own?' Matt 20: 15. A man may cut his own timber as he 
will. God's sovereignty may cause submission; he may do with us as 
he sees good. He is not accountable to any creature for what he 
does. 'He giveth not account of any of his matters.' Job 33: 13. Who 
shall call God to account? Who is higher than the highest? Eccl 5: 
8. What man or angel dare summon God to his bar? 'He giveth not 
account of any of his matters.' God will take an account of our 
carriage towards him, but he will give no account of his carriage 
towards us. He has an absolute jurisdiction over us, the remembrance 
of which, as a sovereign will, to do with us what he pleases, may 
silence all discontents, and charm down all unruly passions. We are 
not to dispute, but to submit. 
    (2) God's will is wise. He knows what is conducive to the good 
of his people, therefore submit. 'The Lord is a God of judgement,' 
that is, he is able to judge what is best for us; therefore rest in 
his wisdom and acquiesce in his will. Isa 30: 18. We rest in the 
wisdom of a physician; we are content he should scarify and let 
blood, because he injudicious, and knows what is most conducive to 
our health. If the pilot be skilful, the passenger says, 'Let him 
alone; he knows best how to steer the ship.' Shall we not rest in 
God's wisdom? Did we but study how wisely he steers all occurrences, 
and how he often brings us to heaven by a cross wind, it would much 
quiet our spirits, and make us say, 'Thy will be done.' God's will 
is guided by wisdom. Should he sometimes let us have our will, we 
should undo ourselves; did he let us carve for ourselves, we should 
choose the worst piece. Lot chose Sodom because it was well watered, 
and was as the garden of the Lord, but God rained fire upon it out 
of heaven. Gen 13: 10; Gen 19: 24. 
    (3) God's will is just. 'Shall not the judge of all the earth 
do right?' Gen 18: 25. God's will is regula et mensura [rule and 
measure], it is the rule of justice. The wills of men are corrupt, 
therefore unfit to give law; but God's will is a holy and unerring 
will, which may cause submission. Psa 97: 2. God may cross, but he 
cannot wrong us; severe he may be, not unjust; therefore we must 
strike sail, and say, 'Thy will be done.' 
    (4) God's will is good and gracious. It promotes our interest: 
if it be his will to afflict us, he shall make us say at last, it 
was good for us that we were afflicted. His flail shall only thresh 
off our husks. That which is against our will shall not be against 
our profit. Let us study what a good will God's is, and we shall 
say, fiat voluntas, 'Thy will be done.' 
    (5) God's will is irresistible. We may oppose it, but we cannot 
hinder it. The rising wave cannot stop the ship when it is in full 
sail, so the rising up of our will against God cannot stop the 
execution of his will. 'Who has resisted his will?' Rom 9: 19. Who 
can stay the chariot of the sun in its full career? Who can hinder 
the progress of God's will? Therefore it is in vain to contest with 
God; his will shall take place: there is no way to overcome him but 
by lying at his feet. 
    [3] The means of submission to God in affliction is, to get a 
gracious heart. All the rules and helps in the world will do but 
little good till grace is infused. The bowl must have a good bias, 
or it will not run according to our desire; so till God put a new 
bias of grace into the soul, which inclines the will, it never 
submits to him. Grace renews the will, and it must be renewed before 
it be subdued. Grace teaches self-denial, and we can never submit 
our will till we deny it. 
    [4] A fourth means is to labour to have our covenant interest 
cleared, to know that God is our God. 'This God is our God.' Psa 48: 
14. He whose faith flourishes in assurance, that can say God is his, 
will say, 'Thy will be done.' A wicked man may say, 'God has laid 
this affliction upon me, and I cannot help it;' but a believer says, 
'My God has done it, and I will submit.' He who can call God his, 
knows God loves him as he loves Christ, and designs his salvation; 
therefore he will, with Paul, take pleasure in reproaches. 2 Cor 12: 
10. In every adverse providence yield to God, as the wax to the 
impression of the seal. 
    [5] Another means to submission to God in affliction is, to get 
a humble spirit. A proud man will never stoop to God; he will rather 
break than bend; but when the heart is humble, the will is pliable. 
What a vast difference was there between Pharaoh and Eli! Pharaoh 
cried out, 'Who is the Lord that I should obey his voice?' Exod 5: 
2. But Eli said, 'It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good.' 
I Sam 3: 18. See the difference between a heart that is swelled with 
pride, and that which is ballasted with humility! Pharaoh said, 'Who 
is the Lord?' Eli, 'It is the Lord.' A humble soul has a deep sense 
of sin, he sees how he has provoked God, he wonders he is not in 
hell; therefore, whatever God inflicts, he knows it is less than his 
iniquities deserve, which makes him say, 'Lord, thy will be done.' 
O, get into a humble posture. The will is never flexible till the 
heart is humble. 
    [6] Another means is to get your hearts loosened from things 
below. Be crucified to the world. Whence children's frowardness but 
when you take away their playthings? When we love the things of the 
world, and God takes them away from us, we grow froward and 
unsubmissive to his will. Jonah was exceedingly glad of the gourd; 
and when God smote it, he grew froward, and because God had killed 
his gourd, he said, Kill me too. Jonah 4: 8. He who is a lover of 
the world, can never pray this prayer heartily: 'Thy will be done;' 
his heart boils with anger against God; and when the world is gone, 
his patience is gone too. Get mortified affections to these 
sublunary things. 
    [7] A further means for submission to God's will is to get some 
good persuasion that your sin is pardoned. Feri, Domine, feri, quia 
peccate mea condonata sunt: Lord, smite where thou wilt,' said 
Luther, 'because my sins are pardoned.' Pardon of sin is a crowning 
blessing. Has God forgiven my sin? I will bear anything; I will not 
murmur but admire; I will not complain of the burden of affliction, 
but bless God for removing the burden of sin. The pardoned soul says 
this prayer heartily, 'Thy will be done.' Lord, use thy pruning- 
knife, so long as thou wilt not come with thy bloody axe to hew me 
    [8] Another means is, if we would have our wills submit to God, 
not to look so much on the dark side of the cloud as the light side; 
that is, let us not look so much on the smart of affliction as the 
good. It is bad to pore all on the smart, as it is bad for sore eyes 
to look too much on the fire; but we should look on the good of 
affliction. Samson not only looked on the lion's carcass, but on the 
honeycomb within it. 'He turned aside to see the carcass of the 
lion, and behold, there was honey in the carcass.' Judges 14: 8. 
Affliction is the frightful lion, but see what honey there is in it. 
It humbles, purifies, fills us with the consolations of God; there 
is honey in the belly of the lion. Could we but look upon the 
benefit of affliction, stubbornness would be turned into 
submissiveness, and we should say, 'Thy will be done.' 
    [9] As a further means, let us pray to God that he would calm 
our spirits and conquer our wills. It is no easy thing to submit to 
God in affliction. There will be risings of the heart; therefore let 
us pray that what God inflicts righteously, we may bear patiently. 
Prayer is the best spell or charm against impatience. It does to the 
heart what Christ did to the sea when it was tempestuous, he rebuked 
the wind, and there was a great calm. So, when passions are up, and 
the will is apt to mutiny against God, prayer makes a gracious calm 
in the soul. Prayer does to the heart what sponge does to the 
cannon: when hot, it cools it. 
    [10] Another means, if we would submit to God's will in 
affliction, is to put a good interpretation upon God's dealings, and 
take all he does in the best sense. We are apt to misconstrue God's 
dealings, and put a bad interpretation upon them, as Israel did. 
'Why have ye brought up the congregation of the Lord into this 
wilderness, that we should die there?' Numb 20: 4. God has brought 
affliction upon us, we say, because he hates us, and intends to 
destroy us; and such hard thoughts of God cause sullenness and 
stubbornness. Oh, let us make a fair and candid interpretation of 
providence. Does God afflict us? Say, perhaps he intends us mercy in 
this: he will try us whether we will love him in afflictions; he is 
about to mortify some sin, or exercise some grace; he smites the 
body that he may save the soul. Could we put such a good meaning 
upon God's dealings, we should say, 'Thy will be done.' 'Let the 
righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness; it shall be an excellent 
oil, which shall not break my head.' Psa 141: 5. 
    [11] The last means, if you would submit to God in affliction, 
is to believe that the present condition is best for you. We are not 
competent judges. We fancy it is best to have ease and plenty, and 
have the rock pour out rivers of oil; but God sees affliction to be 
best. He sees our souls thrive best upon the bare common. The fall 
of the leaf is the spring of our grace. Could we believe that 
condition to be best which God carves out to us, the quarrel would 
soon be at an end, and we should sit down satisfied with what he 
does, and say, 'Thy will be done.' 

The Lord's Prayer
by Thomas Watson
(continued in file 18...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: watlp-17.txt