THE Prayer Pt 4 :: “May Your Kingdom Come…”

Our Father, who lives in the heavens,
May Your name be kept holy.
May Your Kingdom come,
May Your will be done,
On earth just like it’s done in Your presence.

Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive our sins
As we forgive those who sin against us.
Don’t bring us to the times of trial,
But deliver us from the evil one.
Amen.

There are three critical parts to this section: God’s Kingdom to come, God’s will to come, and His presence (presence is a slightly better translation than “heaven”, since we need to remember that God is not limited to living in heaven).

God has a Kingdom. This is no small thing.

In fact, it’s such a large thing that it’s the first recorded statement of Jesus in Mark’s Gospel:

‘The time promised by God has come at last!’ he announced. ‘The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!’

Notice Jesus did not say, “Repent and believe in my  coming death and resurrection so you can go to heaven.” Again breaking it down:

  • God promised this
  • The Kingdom is near
  • You have to change your way of thinking
  • This is Good News 

There is no exact consensus on Jesus’ “Kingdom” teachings: did he intend it to be established while he was alive? Is it visible, or more spiritual? However, what is clear is that it comprised the major thrust of his teaching while on earth. Perhaps we could just say this:

To the extent that a “Kingdom” exists wherever a king’s will is put into place and performed, God wants His presence in your life to make a difference.

In a sense, the King’s Kingdom starts with you, and then spills over to the rest of the world as well.

To pray for God’s Kingdom to come is to pray for that to be true in your life.

Which means we need to take seriously the call to change, to become more like Christ, to in fact, “be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

We shouldn’t be afraid to pray this line of the prayer, but we should also be willing to go on the journey to relinquish our place in our kingdom, and to let God have His place in it.

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Next…

So we finally reached Easter.

No, I mean… We finally reached Easter!!!!

So let me ask you: what’s gonna be different?

In my community, we walked through the 40 Days of Lent, carefully observing, contemplating, denying ourselves.

During Holy Week, we gathered each night to remember Jesus’ last days, and contemplated what it might mean for our lives, some 2,000 years later. Friday night we reflected through song, teaching, and then visually (through the Passion of the Christ) on his death. Friday night through Sunday we joined together in constant prayer, circling around the Stations of the Cross until, finally, we reached Sunday morning, with its empty tomb, the joyous release of energy from the community, and the celebration of the paradigm-shifting reality of the resurrection.

I think, now, we “get” (as much as possible) Lent a little better. We understand denial, understand a little of what it means to “take up our cross” and follow Jesus. This is a good thing.

But what happens next?

On the strength of some year-old conversations with some good friends, I’d like to suggest that in the same way that Lent helps us understand Jesus sacrifice on the cross, perhaps the Easter season could help us understand what it may mean to “live the resurrection,” and maybe the place to begin is through “engagement”.

If Lent is about denial, let’s let Easter be about engagement; where we ask ourself, “What do I need to deny myself?” Perhaps our question now becomes, “What resurrection activity do I need to engage in?”

To be brief, the resurrection has inaugurated, in some amazing, brilliant way, the reality of God’s kingdom now, on Earth. No need to wait on Revelation (oh but wait don’t get me started on that)! The empty tomb says that the best of what’s to come is possible now, and engagement says that we are (to borrow a phrase from NT Wright) “anticipating” this life-to-come now.

Examples? How about for these next 40 days, you…

  • Engage in service by finding a place to serve the “least of these”
  • Engage in slowing down by eliminating techno-clutter from your life at specific times
  • Engage in prayer by setting an alarm and praying a simple prayer (maybe the one Jesus taught us) four times a day
  • Engage in relational health by reaching out to a good friend for regular meals together

Don’t make it overwhelming; keep it simple. Just ask yourself, “What will life in the Kingdom look like?” and begin “practicing that life now.”

… Because, you know, the Resurrection isn’t only an event…

… It’s a lifestyle.

This Needs No Further Explanation

“The point about Jesus’ resurrection is not ‘He’s alive again, therefore there is a life after death,’… It’s not, ‘Jesus is alive again, therefore we’re all going to go to heaven,’ … The point about the resurrection is, ‘Jesus has been raised from the dead, therefore God’s new creation has begun, and therefore we have a job to do… We don’t need to worry (about our sin) any more… but you do need to work.” -NT Wright