In our world with the informational overload that bombards us every hour of the day, every day of the week, it is not difficult to sometimes feel overwhelmed by our calling to live for Christ in this present day culture.
One of the ways that I have found to be most important for me to remain focused and Spirit-led is by remembering the simple things that are the essence of God’s will in my life.
One of those are the words of the simple prayer that Jesus gave to His disciples as a pattern whereby they might truly learn to pray.
“Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:9-11
Let’s pause right there for now.
Two of the absolutely invaluable ways to know if I have set my spiritual compass in the direction God has for me on any particular day is to thoughtfully and reflectively pray these few verses.
We begin with the reaffirmation of our identity as a child of God when we say “Our Father who art in heaven.”
One of the most powerful issues that I recognize as under attack in our culture is the foundation of our true identity. In our society people strive to be known by their heritage, national or racial distinctives, abilities and achievements, titles and status symbols, etc., etc. (By the way, when all those things get thrown into the blender, which is known as ‘social media’, this creates a conundrum for people who are trying to identify something of substance.)
It doesn’t help things that the almost universal accessibility of media compounds this issue by elevating almost every inane or even destructive comment into some sort of ‘viral event’ that rarely warrants our attention. Rather than spend any time dismantling the shallowness of all of these pursuits of false identity, I find great substance and even reassurance to know that I can call our sovereign God and Creator “my Father” and to know that His rule is firmly established in His presence in heaven.
We then go on to pray that His name be hallowed, or worshiped, which is another whole teaching worthy of a series of messages. Suffice it to say that worship is what enables us to access the presence of God here on earth as we will one day know it in it’s fullness when we are in heaven. What an awesome thought!
The second principle that guides our lives day by day is found in the next expression of the Lord’s prayer:
“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Let there be no doubt that the mission that Jesus gave to every one of His followers was the summons to “bring the kingdom of God from heaven here to earth in the way that we live our lives.”
There are many implications of this, but let me just touch on one for today. In the past few weeks I have shared experiences with a number of people that have caused some times of confusion, heartache and perhaps even some tears and doubt. I have lived long enough to know that I do not have easy answers to life’s more complicated issues. No one should be foolish enough to believe that there is a simple answer to every one of life’s complicated questions.
However, the mandate that we’ve been given is that what has been taken from us here on the earth, the wholeness, the peace, the wellness, the blessing and even the plan of God should be restored back to the earth because that’s the prayer that Jesus taught! It is not God’s will that we simply accept confusion, heartache, sickness and oppression. No, in fact, the evidence that God is present is that those things are eventually removed and displaced by the glory of God’s kingdom.
It is true that we don’t necessarily see immediate response to every one of our prayers; but the kingdom of God is sometimes brought in by force (see Matthew 13) but in the end, it is the presence of God’s peace, wholeness, freedom and love that assure us that we are about the business of God in our daily lives.
These are not simply vague generalities, but very specific qualities that can be measured within the lives and circumstances of every day people.
What’s even more important is that I believe the battle for the evidence of the presence of God is reaching new levels that engage every one of us to find our spiritual cutting edge.
We’ll endeavor to do more of that in the weeks ahead.