Pray Like Jesus
The Prayer For The Kingdom
This is a daily prayer. “Give us this day our daily bread” is something you should pray every day along with “forgive us our trespasses.”
This is a realistic prayer. It acknowledges the difficulties in the world, that God’s will is not always done and that people always sin and need forgiveness.
This is a hopeful prayer. It is one of the reasons that the last of our five competencies is we embrace the future. God is the future of this planet and of the human race.
The World is Very Present to Us
Bad news sells newspapers, not good news. The front page is 80 percent about conflict, trouble, death, and disaster. It’s how we are made. So all your news sources focus on the darkest part of the human experience on earth. That’s just how it is.
I have sat in board meetings where community leaders encouraged the publishers to print more good news and to put the murders further back in the newspaper. The bad news, they said, is bad for our city. We don’t want to bury the bad news, but we want it in the second section, not the first, they said. But that cannot and will not happen on any news outlet, not because the media want to tell the bad news, but because people like you and me want to see it and read it. It’s just how we are made.
We live in an age of instant information.
Centuries ago you would never hear about a plague in Brazil or a civil war in Nigeria or even an earthquake in the Philippines. Now every seismic tremor, every political squabble, and every dangerous germ on earth is reported instantly worldwide. We sit on our couches watching the 24-hour news channels. They all focus on the disasters and troubles in the world. These troubles fascinate and alarm us. But we cannot turn away. We have to watch.
We make these troubles very personal and present to our lives. We think the viruses will creep out of the TV and into our living room. We think the insurgents in Syria are going to knock on our door. We think the next airplane we ride will go down in flames.
This focus on bad news sometimes results in a skewed view of the facts and of the world.
The Australian airline Qantas is the world’s safest airline. It has recorded no fatalities since the advent of jet travel. The world’s airlines carried a record 3.6 billion passengers on 29 million flights in 2015. There were 560 deaths in 2015, all of them caused by deliberate terrorist acts. Not a single person flying in a jet in 2015 died “accidentally”—of mechanical or human error. Overall, last year was the safest year for air travel in history. For perspective, 50 years ago in 1965 there were 87 crashes that killed 1,597 people when airlines carried only 141 million passengers worldwide, 5 percent of today’s number.
We Fear What May Be Coming
A child asked me last Sunday what she should do about being afraid all the time. The things she sees and hears on television frighten her. And she can’t seem to shake the fear.
Most of our fears are about things that we think may be coming. Most of them are not about things already happening but things that may happen.
The disciples asked Jesus what was coming and when the end would be. Jesus said in Luke 21:25-28: “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
- Jesus taught us to pray “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done” even though he knew that trouble was coming for the world.
- He also taught us to see the “roaring and tossing of the sea” as a moment of faith.
Stand up and lift your hands
- Jesus wanted his followers not to fall down and drop their heads in despair but to stand up and lift up their heads in hope.
- In other words, the trouble in the world is no reason for us to lose hope or to be overcome with fear.
- Jesus himself faced death bravely. He set his jaw to do the right thing even though it cost him his life.
- The confidence we have in God and his kingdom conquers even the fear of death.
The Kingdom is Not Fully Here Yet
This prayer is an acknowledgment that the world is a mess.
The world is not yet under the complete rule of God in every way. Humans are still living outside the will and purposes of God.
But the prayer has been prayed billions of times for almost 2,000 years. And God answers prayer. So in some ways the kingdom is more present now than it was two thousand years ago. And that is easy to demonstrate simply through the worldwide presence of the church of Jesus Christ.
The Kingdom of God Can and Will Come to Earth
That is also in part what this prayer means. Jesus did not set us praying for something that cannot and will not happen.
Petition: we are asking God to bring his kingdom and do his will on this earth. We expect this prayer to be answered.
Hope: This prayer expresses the hope that earth will look more like heaven one day than it does now. I can picture in my mind a world where love prevails more fully, where kindness is the standard one toward another, and where people are not hurting others and are not hurting themselves. This is how I view heaven, and this is how I view a future earth in this prayer.
Commitment: “Thy will be done” is a prayer that something will be done on this earth—the will of the Father. It is a “to do” list for me.
- I pray these two lines in tandem: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.” These are prayers to God. They are requests.
- But they also indicate a commitment on the part of the pray-er, to do the will of God. I am going to do this thing for which I pray.
Resolve: The prayer must be prayed with a resolve that goes beyond personal morality and practice.
- This prayer is bigger than my own personal behavior. I am not simply praying about conforming my life to the will of God.
- This prayer is bigger than my own faith community. I am praying for God’s kingdom and will in my church and in the churches of this world. But the prayer is bigger than that.
- This prayer encompasses the earth itself: “on earth as it is in heaven.”
Perspective: The kingdom of God is the future of this earth. “He’s got the whole world in his hands.”