Lord, teach us to pray 2

We began a study of the Lord’s Prayer last time, looking at what the first line really mean: Our Father, who is in heaven, hallowed be your name.

What you told me last time is that you want to learn how to pray out loud. This is exactly what Jesus’ disciples were asking him. In one sense, praying is easy, in another, it is not something we can perfect. It is talking to God, and as in all good relationships, it is also a great deal of listening. It takes practice, as any good relationship does. So by learning about what Jesus said when his peeps were asking him about prayer, looking at what Jesus told them helps us now. The rest is practice.

Your kingdom come (on earth as it is in heaven)

This is an extremely radical prayer!! We’re praying for a revolution of epic proportions. We are praying for God to be king, not the powers of this world that rule oppressively because of greed.

When Mary found out she was pregnant, she was overjoyed (eventually) and wrote some praise music. Part of it says, “His mercy flows in wave after wave on those who are in awe before him. He bared his arm and showed his strength, scattered the bluffing braggarts. He knocked tyrants off their high horses, pulled victims out of the mud. The starving poor sat down to a banquet; the callous rich were left out in the cold.” She understood what the coming of the Messiah would do! God is a God of action, he is invested in the coming of his kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. He’s working on it through us, who are his church.  Cornerstone is a church. The church is made up of people, it’s not the building.

Jewish understanding of history is that it is moving towards a meaningful goal: the kingdom of God, on earth as it is in heaven. (The story of God in 5 acts: creation, fall, Jesus, the church, apocalypse)

Apocalypse in Jesus’ day meant “unveiling.” – That which was hidden is coming into view. When Jesus died, the veil in the temple tore in half – the “holy of holies” was revealed. That is the beginning of the revelation. The prayer is for God to fully reveal God’s kingdom, to remove all the veils. In the end, God will make clear (unveil) before the entire world what is already true right now: that the crucified Jesus is on the throne of the universe, that God is King.

What we are actually asking is “Lord, unveil your kingdom of light and joy and power and justice and wholeness. On earth as it is in heaven.”

Paul writes, “Now we see only a dim likeness of things. It is as if we were seeing them in a foggy mirror. But someday we will see clearly. We will see face to face. What I know now is not complete. But someday I will know completely, just as God knows me completely.” 1 Cor 13:12

The “kingdom of God” is not a place – it is here, it is God’s creation, with God as king. In its fullness, the kingdom of God is a new world order, centered in the Messiah, in which humans are remade into the image of God and all of creation is restored into God’s original creation design.

Jesus’ miracles – the blind see, the prisoners are free – demonstrate that indeed the future is breaking into the present. They also show us what that future is all about. It is also visible when we see goodness, generosity and unconditional love in the world. That is the reality of God’s kingdom that is here but not yet here in all its fullness.

At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, Mark records: “After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee. He preached the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Turn away from your sins and believe the good news!”” (John was put in prison because he was causing a disturbance in the desert, baptizing people. The Romans didn’t tolerate any troublemakers and didn’t stop to ask what the problem was.) Jesus left for Galilee, a safe distance from Jerusalem (which was the center of religious and Roman power in the region). The kingdom of God has come near means that the fulfillment of God’s promises has begun. Jesus was a revolutionary in his day, and that is why people eventually wanted him killed. He was upsetting the status quo. The rich, comfortable, selfish people didn’t appreciate that. God’s kingdom is coming at the rate that we, the body of Christ, are willing to be of service.

Your Will be done (on earth as it is in heaven)

If we want God to be king, then we want God to rule. For God to be ruler, we must obey his rules, submit to his will. This tends to rub us the wrong way, we want to be in control. But the thing is, we make a mess of things. We do not know what is best for us. We are imprisoned by our passions, and instead of praying for freedom, we pray for a Persian rug for our cell.

God’s will is:

  1. That we be as creative as he is (Genesis)
  2. That we be blessed and then bless (Abraham)
  3. To set us free from all that keeps us from being blessed so that we can be a blessing (The Exodus)
  4. That we grow into this freedom (10 Commandments)
  5. That we live the kingdom life – having a viewpoint that is aligned with God’s
  6. That we know him (same word as husband-wife intimate relationship, relationships like that take time and effort)
  7. That we be filled with his life (indwelling Spirit/Jesus lives in our heart) Jesus in us, us on fire for the coming of the kingdom through the church (people).

John 6 “46 No one has seen the Father except the one who has come from God. Only he has seen the Father. 47 What I’m about to tell you is true. Everyone who believes has life forever. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Long ago your people ate the manna in the desert, and they still died. 50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven. A person can eat it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Everyone who eats some of this bread will live forever. This bread is my body. I will give it for the life of the world.” Because Jesus conquered evil with love, there is life, not death. Jesus was resurrected. He lives. Evil has already lost. But we well know that evil is still present. Until the last day, the big unveiling, evil will still be visible. And yet, God is in control.

Jesus lives the perfect example of obedience to God. Even in the garden shortly before the crucifixion, Jesus prays to God, “Your will, not mine.” It was God’s will to show us that evil can be conquered by love. That is what Martin Luther King Jr. meant when he said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.