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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thy Kingdom Come . . . Praying the Lord’s Prayer

Mark tells us that Jesus came into the world proclaiming good news: “The time has come the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news” (Mark 1:15). Later Jesus taught His disciples to pray: “Your kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10). But what did He mean by using those words? What do we expect should happen when we pray like this?

Our pastor recently defined God’s Kingdom as “Right relationships under God’s gracious rule.” He described Kingdom Prayer as a way of praying that is:
• Grounded in a trusting relationship with God
• Radically God-centered
• Revolutionary (God overturning the effects of sin and changing lives in radical ways)

As Evelyn Underhill writes: “Thy Kingdom come. Here man’s most sacred birthright, his deep longing for perfection, and with it his bitter consciousness of imperfection break out with power. We want to bring the God whom we worship, His beauty, His sovereignty, His order into the very texture of our life; and the fundamental human need for action into the radius of our prayer.

“Thy Kingdom come! We pray for this transformation of life, this healing of its misery and violence, its confusion and unrest, through the coming of the Holy God whom we adore.

“The Christian turns again and again from that bewildered contemplation of history in which God is so easily lost, to the prayer of filial trust in which He is always found: knowing here that those very things that seem to turn to man’s disadvantage, may yet work to the Divine advantage. On the frontier between prayer and history stands the Cross, a perpetual reminder of the price by which the Kingdom is brought in. Seen from the world’s side it is foolishness; seen from the land of contemplation it is the Wisdom of God.

“When we said ‘Hallowed be Thy Name!’ we acknowledged the priority of holiness. Now we offer ourselves for the purposes of holiness: handing ourselves over to God that His purposes, great or small, declared or secret, natural or spiritual, may be fulfilled through us and in us, and all that is hostile to His Kingdom done away . . . It is here that the praying spirit accepts its most sacred privilege: active and costly co-operation with God—first in respect of its own purification, and then in respect of His creative and redeeming action upon life. Our attitude here must be wide open to God, exhibiting quite simply our poverty and impurity. . . but still offering ourselves such as we are. Thy Kingdom come! Here am I, send me” (Abba by Evelyn Underhill, in Treasures from the Spiritual Classics, 1982, Morehouse Publishing, Harrisburg, PA, third printing , 1996, pages 25-31; a compilation of extracts from Abba, 1940, Longmans Green & Co Ltd).

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