Spirituality

On the Lord’s Prayer… “Blessed is your name/Your kingdom come…”

Volumes more insightful than my own have been written on the Lord’s Prayer, by vaunted academics to ancient saints. In this series, “On The Lord’s Prayer”, I do not claim to greatly advance the discussion, merely to share thoughts. Dive into the discussion — what does the Lord’s Prayer say to you?

The exultant hope of “You are in heaven” continues on in the next words of the Lord’s Prayer: “Blessed is your name/Your kingdom come…” We do not yet know what this kingdom is like, but we know the character of the one we call on, this is why we call him blessed. In the words that come later, we imagine that kingdom, but for now what issues from our lips is an urgent request and proclamation.

URGENT REQUEST

Prayer speaks both to God and to the powers. We urgently request of God, maker of all things and the one we call ruler of the heavens, to have his title honored and to bring his kingdom.  Only the Father can do this. The Apostles asked Jesus if it would be now, soon after his resurrection, that the kingdom would come. The Lord replied that only the Father knew, and he would bring all things to fruition in time.

The Apostles forgot, in their excitement and absent the Spirit, that Jesus said the kingdom wouldn’t come by our seeing or by man’s actions. Rather, it comes without anyone knowing, quietly, just as Jesus came, and just as he came by the will of the Father, so has and so will the kingdom. But man can bend the will of the Father. If it weren’t so, Abraham interceded for Sodom in error and all your prayers are foolishness.

We know prayer isn’t foolish but vicarious. Prayer is vicarious because God wants us to know what he is doing, as our friend and Father, just as he did for Abraham. He makes known his will so that we can partner with him in it, whether by prayer to dissuade, persuade or simply agree with him. As a good parent bends their will and actions to their child’s plaintive cries, so God to our prayers.  Tweet: As a good parent bends their will and actions to their child's plaintive cries, so God to our prayers. http://ctt.ec/RzccM+

PROCLAMATION

Prayer also speaks to the powers: the stoicheions, as Paul called them, those invisible structures over creation, intended to mediate God’s sovereignty over mankind, but corrupted by sin and now serving as our oppressive overseers. The powers are also the object of our prayers and evangelism; to them we make not requests but proclamations in word and deed. In prayer, evangelism and prophecy we command them to honor God’s title and subject themselves to the kingdom of God already at work in the world.

By our prophetic acts and works of mercy and justice, we undo the tangles of sin and set straight lines out of crooked, making reality out of a kingdom unseen but at work in the world, until it works through the dough and the birds nest in its branches.

A DECISIVE BREAK

The words, “Blessed is your name/Your kingdom come…” of the Lord’s Prayer evoke these hopes and actions. But more is required. As the Psalm of Ascents begin, it shows a man sickened now by living among sinful men, as Lot’s righteous heart was sickened by his time in Sodom. But we must not be like Lot and only leave by God’s compulsion.

We are already pilgrims, if we trust ourselves to the name of Jesus. We are already sojourners in this world, seeking a new and better world quite apart from the one we know. Let us make a decisive break from the world and seek and make, in word and deed, a better one. Thus we urgently cry and proclaim, your kingdom come…

This, I believe but too briefly said, is what Jesus meant in this part of the prayer, and what generations of Christians have sought and prayed for all this time. Let us add our voices to theirs.

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Meditation: Humility

Do not confuse self-doubt with humility. The latter denies your identity, and the Savior who has made us like himself, while the latter clings to the hope of ignorance giving way to understanding, of imperfection to perfection.

Self-doubt never looks good on a Christian; like an ill-fitting suit, the wearer is embarrassed to be found in it. Rather, humility teaches us there is a crown on our heads that we strive daily to grow worthy of wearing.

DC Abbey: But Jesus Got Up Again

Welcome to Part 5 of a blog series ‘DC Abbey’, reflections on my 3 days at a Benedictine monastery in DC NE, St. Anselm’s Abbey. I share to hopefully inspire others to a monastic retreat. I value critical feedback, so please comment below.

In Part 4 I explained that Jesus, fully divine, yet also fully human, understands our persistent desire to disobey God. The Spirit’s beautiful play on words that Jesus ‘fell’ on the way to Golgotha, helped me to see Jesus in a completely new light. Jesus knew what ‘falling’ – a word Christians often use to say we sinned – felt like. It was amazing to know that Jesus knew what I felt like in my moments of failure. Jesus was brought closer to me than I ever imagined he could be.

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DC Abbey: Jesus Fell Too

Welcome to Part 4 of a blog series ‘DC Abbey’, reflections on my 3 days at a Benedictine monastery in DC NE, St. Anselm’s Abbey. I share to hopefully inspire others to a monastic retreat. I value critical feedback, so please comment below.

Drawing to the end, it’s time to get more personal.

I went to the monastery to tackle a problem: I don’t live with enough vigor, and often feel prone to weakness. Not sure if you can relate, but it’s my struggle. Many times I’ve started on the way of righteousness and slowed down, not taken it seriously, even taken detours and at times, nearly derailed my faith. I wanted to learn to live vigorously. I felt in danger of living cowardly, and I knew this was not the Way. (more…)

DC Abbey: Chants and Prayers

Welcome to Part 3 of a blog series ‘DC Abbey’, reflections on my 3 days at a Benedictine monastery in DC NE, St. Anselm’s Abbey. I share to hopefully inspire others to a monastic retreat. I value critical feedback, so please comment below.

In my previous post I shared what God taught me in the monastery’s silence. Only prayer broke the silence, and you may remember from Part 1 that our schedule called for prayer at least 3-4 times a day. (more…)

DC Abbey: God in the Whisper

Welcome to Part 2 of a blog series ‘DC Abbey’, reflections on my 3 days at a Benedictine monastery in DC NE, St. Anselm’s Abbey. I share to hopefully inspire others to a monastic retreat. I value critical feedback, so please comment below.
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As I shared in DC Abbey 1, I went to St. Anselm’s with no real agenda, but I did seek something, which I will share in a later post. I had to first encounter an unexpected enemy: silence.

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DC Abbey: The Need for a Monastic Retreat

Welcome to Part 1 of a blog series ‘DC Abbey’, reflections on my 3 days at a Benedictine monastery in DC NE, St. Anselm’s Abbey. I share to hopefully inspire others to a monastic retreat. I value critical feedback, so please comment below.
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Quizzical, even amused, looks often greeted me when I had joyfully shared about my then upcoming monastic retreat in December 2013. A good friend gushed how counter-cultural it was, and surprisingly, other Christian friends didn’t understand why I would want to go. (more…)