The Purpose in Prayer
Most of us are familiar with the prayer Jesus taught his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount. He was explaining how the people of his kingdom would live as they shared the eternal life he would give them after his ascension.
Pray then in this way:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us to the time of trial,
But rescue us from the evil one. (Matthew 6:9-13 NRSV)
A central feature of this prayer is our asking for the kingdom of God to come to earth to be implemented as it is in heaven. It is his will that is to be established. His will is for our good. His will is the rule of true goodness. We pray as those commissioned to call heaven to earth. Maybe if we knew better what that means, we might be more inclined to pray as he directed.
A Picture of Heaven
The pictures we have of what is happening in the heavenly realm is one of absolute worship of God as creator and sustainer of all things.
Holy, holy, holy,
The Lord God the Almighty,
Who was and is and is to come. …
You are worthy, our Lord and God,
To receive glory and honor and power,
For you created all things,
And by your will the existed and were created. (Revelation 4:8, 11 NRSV)
If we do not share that adoration of God, we cannot pray the prayer Jesus gave. He is the sovereign, good God who reveals himself as Father, Son and Spirit. After the Lion of the tribe of Judah is unveiled in book of The Revelation, the scene in heaven changes to equal worship of the Lamb, who is the Son.
You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slaughtered and by your
blood you ransomed for God
saints from every tribe and
language and people and nation;
You have made them to be a kingdom
and priests serving our God,
and they will reign on earth. (Revelation 5:8-10 NRSV)
The kingdom of God is the rule of the slain and resurrected Lamb. It is his love expressed in full forgiveness that rules in this realm called the kingdom of God. Those who have been forgiven by the shed blood of Jesus, the eternal Lamb, have the role of expanding that rule throughout the earth. That is how we live and how we pray.
Expanding the Kingdom
In this kingdom, we forgive as we are forgiven. We depend on the provision of the Father for daily needs. We rely on him to rescue us from the evil of Satan’s intentions. We are citizens of a new kingdom enjoying the benefits of a new family with God as Father, and others as family members. We have a new mission. We no longer live for our own pleasure, but for the pleasure of our Father. He rejoices in mercy and desires that his creation be restored to original intent.
As we pray and live as restored humans, we find the meaningful purpose of our existence without even asking for it.
This certainly colors our prayers. We pray as kingdom people. We address God as Father. We worship him as the creator-redeemer, who is sovereign and loves us above all. We depend on him for daily provision. We receive his eternal forgiveness of all our sins and thereby extend his rule, forgiving those in our path.
In such praying we offer the world a new alternative to presumption, alienation, bitterness, worry and conflict. We release into the world the power of forgiveness that changes relationships and bolsters cultures. Such praying is not a burdensome obligation, but a privilege. God has graciously given us the role of requesting the intervention of heavenly rule and power. As we pray and live as restored humans, we find the meaningful purpose of our existence without even asking for it.
We have more privilege than we ever imagined. We have access to more power than we ever requested. God has graciously made us his partners in matters of earthly management.