Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The Lord's Prayer: Declaration or Call to Action?

I leave today for Nigeria.  It was three long months ago that I returned from Nigeria to begin a surprisingly long passage of health issues, and it now feels great to get back to what I love to do.  In Nigeria, we will have the West Africa Regional DML meeting, with teams from Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Liberia, and Burkina Faso in attendance.  From Nigeria, we will go to Burkina Faso for workshops with the Assemblies of God Church.  Please pray with us for these meetings!

In the meantime, let me share some thoughts that I have had recently about the Lord's Prayer.  The Lord's Prayer, from Matthew 6, is a beloved prayer that many of us memorized at a young age if we grew up in the church. I have studied it, quoted it, and taught on it.

But it's only been in the last few years that I have come to see it with a different perspective.

I had always read this as a prayer where we are asking God to do a number of different things:  letting His Kingdom come, His will be done, giving us our daily bread, leading us not into temptation, and delivering us from evil.

There was one phrase where there seemed to be mutual activity:  Forgive us as we forgive our debtors.

In many ways, this prayer is read as a declaration: "May it be done!"  We speak or sing it with authority and passion.

But in more recent years, I have begun to see this prayer as a call to action.  I have begun to see it as a mirror.

As image-bearers, I am to reflect my Creator and through me, all should see the One in whose image I have been created.

That means that if His name is to be hallowed, I need to treat it with respect.

If His Kingdom is to come and His will is to be done, I need to know what that looks like and how to do it.

I need to figure out what His will in Heaven is so that I can replicate it on earth.  Isaiah 65:17-25 gives us some great clues.

If I want my daily bread, I need to use my time, talent, and treasure in order to be able to have that bread to eat.

We can't pray this prayer and then sit on our hands and wait for God to make it happen.  He created us on purpose (Psalm 139) and for a purpose (Ephesians 3:12), and He expects us to join Him in the work of reconciling this earth to Himself.

To be honest, I like this prayer better when I could pray it and then breathe a sigh of relief that He will take care of it...that He will get it done.  And of course, He can.  In the blink of an eye.  But He invites us to join Him.

He beckons us to watch what He is doing and join in the process.  He understands that joining Him in this process is not just for obedience.  He understands that it's not just so others will know of Him.  It is also because it brings us joy.  When we do something that is greater than ourselves, it brings true happiness.

This is the God we serve.  Multiple levels of fulfillment.  The opportunity to mirror to others the Most High God.  He shines through our weaknesses and failures and continues to engage us and use us.

Father, give us wisdom and strength to let Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us eyes to see, ears to hear, and courage to obey.  Then, may we be transformed to be more and more like you.