Friday, March 19, 2010

Praying for the Kingdom of God

In this recent post I talked about how the Lord's prayer, as it is called, provides a format for intercession that keeps us from being self-absorbed in our prayers. Now I want to say something more.

When I pray, I try to pray in this format, starting out by focusing on the kingdom of God, thinking about the kingdom and longing for it to come at last in fullness and glory; and then, with some sense of kingdom-wonder lingering in my thoughts, I move on to the second half of the Jesus format: personal provision, forgiveness, protection from temptation and the evil one. Sometimes I focus more on one of these than the others, but I try always to start with the kingdom.

When we pray "may your kingdom come," we're praying for the biggest most momentous event we can ever imagine happening. We're praying that today, in our presence, Revelation 21 would happen. Here's just a sample of what that will be like:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
Folks, this prayer is not about having a good day, getting along with your boss, getting good grades in school, or getting over your sore throat. It's a prayer for ultimate things, and when it comes, we will be on our faces in holy fear. When you begin here, you move on to other things with a certain sense of "perspective."

But maybe the prayer for ultimate things will not be answered today. Maybe the New Jerusalem is still not yet. Maybe today will be like all the days that have come before. Well then, short of the kingdom of God in fullness, what should be our deepest desire for today? How about, at the very least, a foretaste of that kingdom. An inkling. A sense of what the Holy Spirit of God is doing around you. Paul mentions this in Ephesians 1:13-14, where he speaks of the Spirit as a guarantee of our inheritance. That is, a down-payment today of the kingdom-fullness that is to come.

What does that look like? Well, I believe it looks like "daily bread." and it looks like an ongoing attitude of repentance and forgiveness. And it looks like temptation overcome and protection from the lies, slander, and threats of the evil one. In other words, the rest of the Jesus prayer is a prayer for a little more of the kingdom now until the not yet finally comes in fullness.

So the Jesus prayer is a prayer for the kingdom from start to finish. It's an awesome prayer, a prayer for things far above our full understanding, a prayer for beauty and light and every tear disposed of and hopelessness obliterated and all sin done away with. The lamb is on the throne, and a river of life runs from there to all the nations. But it is also a prayer that positions us on the cutting edge of what God is doing in his world. It's the prayer, in other words (and I can't emphasize this enough), of a disciple.


nAncY said...

you have written some things for me to think on. thanks.

香蕉哥哥 said...

may the blessing be with you.........................................