Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Living into the Kingdom

 What does it mean to pray that God's kingdom might come into existence?  What role do we play in its emergence?  What are we committing ourselves to in offering this prayer?

New Testament scholar John Koenig writes that it's on this petition that the rest of the prayer hinges -- whether daily bread, forgiveness,  or deliverance from evil.  As I was reading through is chapter on the Lord's Prayer and the Kingdom of God -- in his book Rediscovering New Testament Prayer  (Harper San Francisco, 1992-- now available from Wipf and Stock) -- I came across a couple of paragraphs that really speak to the question of the day.  I'd like to share them and invite your responses.

I suspect that even when we pray "Thy kingdom come" most intentionally, most of us do not think of ourselves as true insiders, residents of God's reign who know pretty well how to enact it on earth.  At best, we are petitioners at the doorway of the kingdom, painfully conscious that we have not yet arrived at anything resembling a condition of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.  At most, we receive glimpses and foretastes of the feast.  
But that is just the point, for our self-perception is nothing other than an accurate mirroring of the human situation as seen by Jesus and the New Testament writers.  Indeed, Paul reminds us that even when we are led by the Spirit, "we do not know how to pray as we ought" (Rom. 8:26).  When we pray "Thy kingdom come," we are not relying on our virtue or ingenuity, or even our understanding of what we ask for, but on the power of the Holy Spirit to help us welcome God's loving interventions.  Precisely in the chief petition of the Lord's Prayer the Spirit leads us by renewing our hearts, guiding us into truth and sanctifying what we offer. We do not stand alone at the doorway to the feast but in company with the Go-Between God.  And somehow, through God's overflowing mercy, our prayer helps to bring the kingdom in, and us into the kingdom.  (Rediscovering New Testament Prayer, p. 47).  

Standing at the doorway, not knowing the entirety of the vision and not embodying yet the love, peace, and righteousness of the kingdom, we pray that God's reign would be made present in our lives.  To do that, God will likely turn our lives and our world upside down. 

2 comments:

John said...

I was thinking about this "glimpsing" business. Are we not like the Jews, first in Egypt, then in the desert, then in Exile. Always separated from the promise? When they did come into the Promised Land they lost it due to their unwillingness to retain the Lordship of God.

Or perhaps we are like Moses, even when he leads the people to the Promised Land, he may not enter .... almost there, within his sight, but at the last minute, the Promise cannot be achieved.

So we wander in the desert, hoping for, and praying for the Promised Kingdom.

John

Anonymous said...

um. I thought the kingdom was among us. I'm so ignorant? David Mc