The Lord’s prayer is Jesus’ response to the disciples’ request: “Lord teach us to pray”.
So it is a very definitive and important prayer template for us as Christians.
This has been recognised over the centuries, with this prayer being a central element to the teaching and catechisms of the church.
In our recent Sunday evening series on prayer, based on Tim Keller’s eponymous book, we reflected on Martin Luther’s habit of “riffing” on the Lord’s prayer. That is, when he prayed, he would pray around and over the different sections of this prayer, using the different phrases as the guiding melody and rhythm of his conversation with God. He would expect and allow the Holy Spirit to guide him in this, and to “preach” to him. Sometimes, like a good piece of jazz improvisation, one line of the prayer would stand out, and he would spend considerable amount of time praying around that line. Other times, he moved through the prayer quite quickly, without feeling any great level of inspiration.
Over recent months, I have been following the same practice, using the Lord’s prayer as the starting point and framework for my time speaking to and listening to God. As a family, we recently visited the States for a few weeks, and I would start most days running along the beach, and then walking back slowly, dragging my feet in the water, and talking to God. I reflected on and around the Lord’s prayer as I did this.
The line that I want to mention in this blog is “Your kingdom come, your will be done.”
As I pray this line over many areas of my life – my family, the church I lead, my staff team, my areas of responsibility, individual people and needs – I pray along the lines:
“God you be in charge in this situation. You be the boss. You be the CEO. You are the King. You are in charge. Exercise your power and your purpose.” I acknowledge, as I pray, that I am not ultimately in charge. When I pray for the church, I slope my shoulders, and I acknowledge that God is the senior leader, the main shepherd, the one in charge – not me. I submit to him in prayer. I surrender ultimate responsibility. I recognise my limits. I defer to my boss. “Your kingdom come.”
And then I pray – “Your will be done”. I pray: “Let what you want to happen, happen! Whatever you want in this situation, in this person’s life, in my family, in our church – let that happen! Here on earth, just as in heaven. I know that what God wants is ultimately the best outcome – though I do not always immediately recognise this to be the case. Sometimes, I want something different. A different outcome. A different time scale. A different result. But ultimately, if I trust God, I know that he knows best, and he wants what is best. So when I pray that what he wants to happen will happen, I again defer to his greater knowledge and power and wisdom and goodness.
Let your kingdom come. Let your will be done. On earth, as it is in heaven.
God you be in charge. God, let what you want to happen, happen.