Your kingdom come, your will be done . . .
The second part of the Lord’s Prayer, this manifesto of theism, says, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (v. 10). If you pray that, then you are saying, “I believe God is a ruling king. He is leader over what he has created, he has a plan, and he knows how it all is supposed to work, so that means that he knows how my life is supposed to work. When I am confused or feel strung out or discouraged or feel like giving up, he is the Protector and the ruling Sovereign.
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name . . .
The Lord’s Prayer begins simply: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (v. 9). Now you could say nothing more than that and have a belief system that fills in the deep cracks and fissures of atheism or materialism. Four truths: There is a God, He is personal and benevolent, He is above and apart from this finite world, and He is great and worthy of adoration.
Perhaps the most pervasive kind of atheism is what some have called practical atheism, the life stance of many who may say they believe in God, but for all intents and purposes, the reality of God never enters their minds, never influences a decision, never shapes a value, never prompts them to worship. Not atheists formally, they might as well be—there is no conscious thought of God or interaction with God. And one might even wonder if practical atheism is more dangerous than dogmatic atheism. Which is more dangerous: to admit you don’t believe in God, or to say you do and then absolutely ignore Him? Remember that Jesus reserved his strongest words for those who claimed righteousness but who defined it in their own terms.
Another face of atheism in the modern world is the worldview known as secular humanism. Two words here: “humanism” and “secular.” Humanism, broadly viewed, can either be hostile toward God or accepting of God.
The starkest religious alternative to Christian faith is atheism. While it may seem strange to even describe atheism as a religious alternative, doing so is accurate because atheism is the dogma that there is no God, a position that usually requires a great deal of talk and debate about God.
At the twenty-fifth annual meeting of the organization called American Atheists, its 44-year-old president strode to the lectern and opened with the words: “Happy Vernal Equinox and good morning. My name is Ellen Johnson and I am the President of American Atheists.” A very different picture from the previous president, Madalyn Murray O’Hair (who disappeared in 1995 and was recently confirmed murdered for money), Ellen Johnson is a newer picture of atheism. Slender, blonde, a self-described soccer mom, she nonetheless carries on the message of being freed from the restraints of religion and of wanting tolerance in a free society.
Here in my home state of Wisconsin, Tuesday is voting day. In all the political commentary these days, once again there is one quality that is almost never mentioned: wisdom. Young Solomon pleased God when he said, “Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?” That is the issue for today, especially because the next president of the U.S. will be not just the most powerful person in the U.S., and not just in the world, but in all of history (given ever-increasing military might). Here, then, is a prayer we may pray for any election day…
You have said in your word that whenever we know we need wisdom, we should ask for it, and that you will give it generously.
As we take the extraordinary step to vote for our local, regional, and national leaders, we pray for your wisdom from above.
Teach us to pray. That is what Jesus’ disciples said to him one day, and it should be our longing as well. Jesus’ answer was the so-called Lord’s Prayer. In it is a world of truth, a pattern of behavior, and a perfect picture of a godly disposition. It is good to let these words sink in…
Our Father in heaven…
Whenever we pray we should address God in personal terms.
Many believers say they pray best when prayer is a continual dialogue with God during the course of the day. As one person put it: “I do not often pray for 15 minutes straight, but hardly ever does 15 minutes pass without me praying.” This is obviously not the kind of prayer where someone is down on his knees in a quiet room of his house. It is, rather, the idea that one can say a sentence or two to God anytime, anywhere, out loud or silently.
Done many times over during the course of a day, this develops in us a steady heart-openness to God. It allows one to respond to God at the moment one sees any special act or blessing from God. It is to ask God questions during the day, the whole day, about what you’re seeing, the decisions you’re making, your choice of words before they come out of your mouth.
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
He brings princes to naught
and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.
Great Lord of heaven and earth,
We pray for our world.
They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. — Matthew 27:33-37
Now came the time for the clash between good and evil, heaven and hell. The crucifixion of Jesus is both the most horrific moment in human history, and humanity’s only hope. That’s why we call the Friday before Easter, Good Friday.
[If you did not take the 2-question survey about prayer, it is not too late. Go here.]
Prayer is always an act of faith. It begins with faith, must be carried through in faith, and finished in faith. Every ordinary prayer prayed in the most ordinary way by the most ordinary person is a revolutionary statement of trust. It is to take a stand and say: I have questions only God can answer, I have a longing only he can fill, I bear pain that only a crucified Lord can understand. I need to speak with God!
When you read what the Bible says about prayer, it appears that God is far more interested in our bringing before him a steady flow of ordinary, even homely prayers, rather than great eruptions of spiritual energy. Prayer shapes us best as habit, a steady pulse of unhurried conversations with God. We have to trust that it is the right thing to do. And then we need to do it.
The new movie Risen is having high-level impact on audiences. The world changed when the Son of God rose from the dead, repudiating the power of sin and death itself. But what does it all mean? How do the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ make a difference for us today? These are questions we should be contemplating in these weeks leading up to Easter.
Here is a brand new preview of Knowing Him: Devotional Thoughts About the Crucifixion and Resurrection.