By Bruce Mann
I have recited the Lord’s Prayer hundreds, maybe thousands of times. I’m old enough to have recited it every morning before school began as a youth. Only recently, though, have I begun to really understand what this prayer is all about.
One thing I now appreciate is that it’s not the Lord’s Prayer; it’s the disciple’s prayer, which means it’s my prayer. As Jesus said, this is how we should pray.
It’s also a transformational prayer. When Jesus says, “thy Kingdom come, thy will be done,” He is teaching us to agree with God and take part in establishing God’s Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven. He’s not talking about some kind of political structure or dominance. He’s talking about bringing the life of heaven to earth, so the values, attributes and ethos of heaven are here like they are there (Matthew 6:10).
Most of us have a picture of what it would be like to live in God’s country. There would be no sickness, and no poverty of any kind. There would be no abuse or cruelty, and there would be no division. We may not think this way about what it would be like in God’s country but there would also be no pollution, bankruptcy, unemployment or corruption. Everything would be aligned with God’s justice and righteousness (Romans 14:17). When I think about this picture of heaven, I think of a jigsaw puzzle. Imagine sitting in a kitchen on a rainy day with one of those 1000-piece puzzles before you. How do you start trying to fit all those pieces together?
In order to make a puzzle, you first need some idea of what it should look like. So you keep looking to the picture on the puzzle box to help make sense of the pieces. Next, you must consider how each piece is unique, designed to fit properly in its place. Even if two pieces have an identical shape, they have a unique spot in the picture. In this analogy, the Lord’s Prayer (our prayer) is the picture – heaven on earth – that we’re trying to follow. Each of us is a piece of this puzzle, and the communities we’re part of are larger sections in the puzzle. We’re all part of making a heaven-inspired image of something beautiful. It will never be as perfect as heaven, but as more pieces fit harmoniously into place, it will come close.
I’d like to keep unpacking this idea throughout the year because there are many truths to uncover, but right now here are two things to think about.
- First, in this model of God’s kingdom, having unity and relationship is not optional: it’s essential. If we aren’t functioning in unity, then we’re just a pile of random pieces lying on a table. But if we allow the Holy Spirit to arrange us in the place that was designed for us and bring us into right relationship with the other pieces around us, then a picture will emerge that will be remarkably attractive. Remember that unity doesn’t mean that we aren’t all the same; we can be different, but still choose to be connected to each other.
- Second, when we pray the Lord’s Prayer with this understanding, the righteousness, joy and peace that are hallmarks of God’s kingdom will not only be evident corporately, but personally. We will display these fruits of the Spirit in our own lives, not as a strategy but as natural outflow of sharing what is in God’s heart for the world around us..The prayer that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven is immense, and it needs you for it to come into being. We are all a piece of the kingdom puzzle: we are, really, the answer to our own prayers.
If Jesus really meant this, and I think we can agree he did, then maybe we should revisit this prayer and our image of heaven, because we have a big job ahead of us.
Happy puzzle building!
CREATIVE COMMONS: ‘Puzzling’ by Jolene Faber. Licensed under CC 2.0. Adapted for use.