We are preaching and teaching our way through the Lord’s Prayer in the place where my family and I worship. In this series, Teach Us to Pray, we are working our way through the prayer Jesus taught his disciples to pray, line by line. Each week I am struck anew by this prayer.
A couple of weeks ago, we focused on fourteen powerful words that I contend are some of the most important words in all of Scripture.
“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)
If I am really honest with you, for all intents and purposes, the way I live my life looks more like I pray, “My kingdom come, my will be done, in heaven as it is on earth.” What about you?
As I continue to sit with these fourteen words, they cause me to commit to curiosity, they conjure up courage, and they curate community.
What is the kingdom? What did Jesus say about the kingdom of God? Where is it? What is it? What does Jesus expect of me and you as it relates to the kingdom of heaven?
These are among the questions I find myself asking God, myself, my friends, and the world around me. “What do you want from me, God?” “Is your kingdom a ‘some glad morning, when this life is over, I will fly away kind of kingdom?’”
Or is it something else entirely?
If the kingdom of heaven is among us, in the midst of us, and/or is in us the way Jesus describes throughout the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, what does that mean for me? How, then, shall we live?
I have far more questions than I have answers when I pray “your kingdom come,” but I am pretty sure that if I am going to live the life that Jesus would live if Jesus was living my life, it is incumbent upon me to commit to curiosity.
When I pray, “your will be done,” it is an invitation to conjure up some courage. As I’ve explained in previous weeks, there are any number of reasons that we hold back from living the life that God created us to live. Perhaps we have a first formation wounding we can’t get past? Maybe there is some traumatic experience that we don’t believe God can forgive. Or maybe, just maybe, we have believed a lie about ourselves that has us locked up and unable to see the opportunities that present themselves day in and day that are God’s will for us and our world!
I am often struck by the radical obedience of people who seemingly do whatever it is that God lays on their hearts to do. When I think about such people, people like my friend, Rev. Rudy Rubio, come to mind. Rudy met Jesus in a prison cell by engaging with the Scriptures, and when he was spared certain death, Rudy dedicated his life to God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven.
Another example I think of is a young couple, recent grads of a local college who committed their lives to going to Central Asia to an unreached and unengaged people group. When asked why they would risk life and limb, they very simply explained, “Because this is what Jesus commands us to do, to go and make disciples of all nations…and because not enough other people are doing it.”
I marvel at that kind of obedience. And I ask God and myself all kinds of questions about my obedience or lack thereof.
Recently, a dear friend of mine gave me a gift, a little liturgical book called Every Moment Holy. This book is chock full of prayers for all kinds of life situations. As I prayed “your will be done” last week, I also came across these words from “A Liturgy For Those Who Have Not Done Great Things for God.” The intercessor prays:
How many times have I felt then
the gradually settling weight of disillusionment,
of disappointment and confusion,
when no great thing materialized, when no
life-changing opportunity suddenly
arrived at my doorstep, when no such moment
of call or clarity was ever manifest at all?
When we pray your will be done, do we expect that we will do great things for God? When no great thing materializes, are we disappointed and confused? Or can we be faithful with the smallest of opportunities that God places in front of us, no matter who we are or what we do?
God doesn’t call everyone to go to Central Asia. God calls some to be nurses, teachers, bankers, mechanics, professors, and all kinds of other vocations. As we live our lives, each of us gets to conjure up courage to share with others what God is doing in our lives, or to care for someone the way Jesus cared for the lame, the sick, the widow, the orphan, and the imprisoned.
Returning to Every Moment Holy, the petitioner prays:
For it is not you that will do any great thing for God, but
God laboring in you and through you who will
greatly accomplish his own good purposes according to
the workings of his sovereignty and love.
Be liberated now from this burden of believing that
anything depends upon you – and so be liberated at last
to give yourself to his joyful service in grateful response
for the grace he has lavished upon you!
So committing to curiosity and conjuring up some courage, we curate community by praying “on earth as it is in heaven.” Our prayers are not just for ourselves or our loved ones; nor are they only for our little corner of the world, but rather for the entire world so loved by God. It doesn’t seem to me that God is as concerned with individual salvation stories – though God does go to great lengths to see that not one is lost in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Rather, God is about redeeming and restoring all of creation to God’s intended design. To that end, God is curating community that involves each of us doing our own parts.
Intercessor: Is this still your heart’s true desire then,
to do great works for the kingdom of heaven?
Petitioner: It is, though I had not known before
even what it meant. I ask now for grace that I might truly
and humbly repent of any root of vainglory buried in my
former prayers, and I pray also for grace that I might now ask
aright, in purity of heart, that the good works of God would be
manifest in their many outworkings in my heart and life,
at all times and in all endeavors, howsoever it pleases him.
Now, child of God, avail yourself of his Spirit, that you might
go and learn to love God and love others, practicing his mercies
daily. There is not greater work appointed to you!
Petitioner: Alleluia! Then to this great work of learning
to bear his likeness and his light, I commit my life.
Intercessor: May he strengthen and encourage you,
and lead you gently in that good way.
Go in peace now to do his will.
Together: Amen. To Christ by the glory. Amen.
Amen and Amen!