Kenny strongly suggested in Part One of this series that we often view prayer as ‘presenting our needs to God’ and I’m not sure there is much to argue against that point. So far in this prayer we haven’t actually had a chance to ask God for anything! Rather we have concentrated on the God to whom we are asking. So far we have established He is The Father above all others, the God who is the one worthy of most honour. Have we now come to the point of asking? Well yes but maybe not quite as we might expect.
This first opportunity we get to ask God for something in this model prayer is something I find quite mind blowing as it sets the whole tone of our asking. It sets the whole priority in which everything we are going to ask for is placed, indeed the very context in which we are to live our lives and set our personal priorities. I believe the implication for those who call themselves followers of Jesus when praying ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ is that it could go something like this:
‘Look Father there are things that I feel I need, some of these are quite urgent and I could really do with you coming up with the goods right now, although I concede, some things I can wait for. And I’m not just asking for me, I’m concerned for my family and my friends, some of whom are really desperately ill and I really want you to heal them. I know you can do this and do so much more than I can imagine or have the faith to believe. But Father, before you do any of this, before you consider my needs and the needs of my family and friends, all the things that worry and concern me, even the things that give me sleepless nights and overtake my days: please first do everything that you need to do to bring the fullness of your kingdom into our fallen world. Your purposes are my priority, everything else comes second to that, even through the sleepless nights and darkened days.’
Does this mean then that we cannot expect anything from God? Well no. As we will see later in the prayer we are given the opportunity to ask for ‘our daily bread’. God will bless us, even when He is pursuing His purposes. Everything God does will ultimately end up for our good, even though this may take some of us through dark and challenging times, and I concede that for some followers of Jesus, this can get very dark indeed. Our world and our times, as much as there are things to love about it, is a pale shadow of what it was originally intended to be. It is stained and tainted by sin and evil and we experience the consequences of this. This world has been given over to sin and Satan as his domain, for a limited time. It needs liberating. We, and our world, need liberating.
But, the good news is that God re-establishing His Kingdom on earth, the domain that we inhabit, is a work of liberation not limitation. Our acceding our desires over to His ultimately frees us, even though in the short term (and our lives are short term in the grand scheme of things) as a consequence we may go through difficult times (or just plain not get what we want). By investing in God’s future for us, by giving over to God, the Father above all others, who is worthy of most honour, all our desires, we can experience some of the liberty He offers, not just in the future where evil, sin and death are banished for ever, but in the here and now when we let Him take control.
The prayer ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ is a cry of freedom and liberation, a stepping back from ourselves, a handing over to the one who knows best. By praying this we are aligning ourselves with God who has defeated evil and death by the sacrifice of Christ. Our ‘little’ sacrifice means giving up what we want to obtain what God has won: our liberation from sin and evil and death and a future that is secure in God.
‘Father God, I am entirely in your hands and at your mercy. I acknowledge that although I feel I need or want certain things, whatever you have for me is fine. I accept that whatever you give me or choose to withhold from me is good. I put my trust in you.’