Lord, teach us to pray.
That’s the line Luke places on the lips of the disciples to introduce the Lord’s prayer. Jesus had been praying in a certain place (probably all night long as was his custom) when the disciples come to him and asked to learn how to pray. The request seems slightly strange. While the disciples were not trained as Rabbis or Biblical scholars, they were all faithful Jews who had been raised going to synagogue classes, and most likely, still attended synagogue regularly. They knew the Hebrew scriptures, and would have learned, through training and experience, how to pray. Yet there is something about the way Jesus prays that causes them to want more. The disciples are drawn to Jesus, in part, because of his close connection with the Father. They realize they too want to be closer to the Father, and they recognize there must be something lacking in their own prayer life, so they ask Jesus to teach them to pray.
Jesus’s response demonstrates that prayer is not about knowing fancy words, or developing the correct formula. Jesus doesn’t start a ten part series on prayer, or even give positives and negatives. Instead Jesus’s prayer is a simple reminder of who we are praying to, and where our priorities must lie.
Father, hallowed is your name.
There is a tension in this address. God and God’s name is to be kept as holy. God is above all things. God is creator and sustainer of all that has ever been. God is even the one who can bring the dead back to life. God is supreme. In prayer, we do not approach just another random being, we are approaching one who is wholly other. Yet, this God who is wholly other longs to be known in one of the most intimate of terms, Father. There is a closeness, an intimacy, in the address. Like a little girl who crawls up into her Daddy’s lap to talk, God is inviting us, in a sense, to crawl up into the Father’s lap and share life. This tension, between transcendent and immanent, is a healthy tension for us to remember.
The heart of the prayer, however, comes in the next line, Your Kingdom come.
Jesus’s model prayer does not begin with requests or desires. Those do come later. There is a time for Jesus to pray for daily bread, for forgiveness, and for protection from temptation. But the heart of Jesus’s conversation with the Father is not centered around Jesus, but around the Holy Father. Holy Father, may your Kingdom come. Jesus’s greatest desire and hope for the world is for God’s Kingdom to come in it’s fullness. Here. Right now. Today.
What would it look like for our prayers to focus on God’s Kingdom Come? Not that there’s anything wrong with keeping a list of prayer requests and offering those requests up to God over and over again; that’s a good thing. Still, what would it look like for our prayers to be focused on God’s Kingdom Come? Would our priorities change? Would what we think is most important be transformed from searching after the things we want to searching after the things God wants? Would we begin to view those around us differently? Would we no longer see others as annoying or distractions, but instead see all interactions as opportunities to love others with the love of God? Would where we spend our time or money change?
It’s possible that praying God’s Kingdom Come could become our own personal prayer of revival. As we pray God’s Kingdom Come over and over again, we are in essence asking God to bring about revival in our own hearts, and in the hearts of the world. Our prayer time becomes a constant longing for God’s Kingdom to come in this world. Our constant hope and desire is for God’s Kingdom to come so fully in this place that it affects everything else in our reality. When this happens, our greatest desire is no longer for good health, for well paying jobs, or other requests, but instead the only thing that will bring joy to our lives is for God’s Kingdom to come.
Praying this prayer will change us. As we pray for God’s Kingdom to come over and over again, it will change our hearts and desires. We will start to live God’s Kingdom way in our own lives. We would want God’s Kingdom to come to such a degree that we will live it out as our hope for the world. We will live out the Kingdom as a sign of what life could be God’s Kingdom was here. Our change of lifestyle may not change the world on it’s own, in fact it probably won’t, but we will still live out God’s Kingdom because the desires of our heart will be transformed in a way that we long for the same world God longs for.
Holy Father, may your Kingdom come. That is our prayer. Asking of the Spirit to come and do what only God can do, for the glory of God’s name.