I’ve been thinking about one phrase in The Lord’s Prayer: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” The longer I ponder the words, the more I become convinced of a few matters.
The kingdom of God (or the kingdom of heaven) is not so much a destination as a condition. It is the ongoing experience of living in the perceived presence of God, taking delight in doing so, and adjusting all elements of one’s life to accord with God’s purposes.
Jesus tells us to pray God’s kingdom or rule take hold in us and the world. I suspect we think we’re praying in this fashion each time we ask God to do any number of things. For example, do you ever pray that God will restore the culture you knew during childhood, punish those you consider wicked, or make the world safe for you and persons like you? I’m afraid we often try to tell God what the kingdom of God should look like!
I think Jesus has something else in mind. He calls us to stop telling God how to reshape the world. Instead, Jesus wants us to cede the world and ourselves to God, to trust God enough to lay down our need to control outcomes. Jesus prays in such a way in the garden. He tells God how he would prefer things to be, but he finishes his prayer by saying, “Nonetheless, not my will but your will be done.”
Can we imagine the personal impact of learning to pray about time, money, relationships, belief structures, ways of seeing others and the world at large, and all the other stuff of life, if we chose to pray so?
Try it. Say, “Your kingdom come, your will be done with regard to how I make and spend money, speak of other religions, view those who have more or less than me, chart my career, and treat my friends and enemies.” Feel free to add other items, as they occur to you.
Such open-ended, trusting prayer launches us on a journey with God, one on which we walk the trail blazed by Jesus and so start to become kingdom of God persons.