Friday, December 26, 2014

December 25 – A ritual, or prayer of defiance?

Therefore, you should pray like this:  Our Father in heaven, Your name be honored as holy.  Your kingdom come.  Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  (Matthew 6:9-10 HCSB)

This is the most well known prayer in the Bible, recited by millions in and out of churches around the world.  Jesus gave it to us as a model for sincere, effective prayers, but unfortunately it has turned into a robotic ritual for most believers, for many, a way to earn brownie points with God if they repeat it often enough…

But there is something powerful in verse 10.  Jesus wants us to expect that what is done in heaven should be done on earth.  God’s will in heaven is being accomplished in its fullness.  There is no pain, no suffering, there is abundance of light, joy, faithfulness and honest obedience to the Lord.  Heaven is perfection, and Jesus wants us to pray for that to manifest here on this fallen and sinful planet.  Why would He ask us to pray for this if we aren’t to determine that it’s possible?

Of course we know that evil is in the world and that Satan and his demons will only be thrown into the lake of fire when the final judgment comes.  But Jesus wants our lives to begin reflecting the Kingdom of Heaven right here in our own lives, in our own homes.  We can’t save every single soul and ensure that everyone serves God with every fiber of their being – we have a hard enough time daily carrying our cross and working out our own salvation “with fear and trembling” as it is!  (See Philippians 2:12)  But we can allow the will of God in heaven to materialize in and around us in such a way that others can see the reality of God in us.

If heaven is incompatible with addictions, depression, defeatist attitudes, loneliness and misery, then we can’t cave in to the thought that these things are inescapable. Demons are at work to keep us enslaved to their way of life and to convince us to be tolerant and patient.  Meanwhile Jesus wants us to look to heaven as our standard.  He wants us to live in a piece of heaven right now in this life, and He wants us to pray for it, to fight for it, and to accept nothing less.  He obviously doesn’t want us to imagine that it will magically happen because we are good or because we are believers, because He commands us to pray for it to happen.  Our fight and determination to overcome is part of faith and our key to opening the way to the Kingdom of God.

“Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” is a prayer of defiance against the devil’s dominion over this world.  It is a prayer of taking back what is rightfully ours, by the shed blood of the Lord Jesus.  While most make this prayer in the faint hope that perhaps God might deem us worthy of a few scraps from heaven, Jesus’ meaning was of a completely different nature.  Learning from all that He taught His disciples on healing the sick and casting out demons, on rebuking false religion and challenging a radical faith that believes without seeing, Jesus had no interest in teaching rituals with no substance.  Understand that today, Jesus has given you the authority to take back the freedom that God created you to have – right here on earth, as it is in heaven. 

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