“Thy kingdom come; thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven.”
I would guess that more people can recite that line than any line of The Pledge of Allegiance or a phrase from any Beatles song. Even the non-churchy people know the Lord’s Prayer.
It is usually prayed aloud rather than in silent contemplation. It is more often spoken in chorus with others than alone. That gives it a unique power. It bonds people into a harmonious unity. (Note that harmony is created by a blending of difference: soprano, alto, tenor, bass.) The Lord’s Prayer is something that people with different beliefs can agree on and share. Even non-believers appreciate the wisdom expressed in The Lord’s Prayer.
“Thy kingdom come…” Why are we waiting for God to assert holiness on earth? It’s up to us to make it happen. God’s kingdom will come when we stop developing creation as though it’s our kingdom.
“Thy will be done…” We pray that God’s will might come to pass. When we say, “Thy will be done,” are we fully aware that we must be the ones to implement God’s will? And, in order to accomplish that we must accurately interpret God’s will. That requires that we discern our own desires from the true will of God. There is always the risk of assuming that which our ego creates is the very thing God “has laid on our heart.”
I liked the sign I saw on Main Street recently: A bad day for the ego is a good day for the soul.
“…on Earth as it is in heaven.” Are we still thinking that heaven is “up there” and Earth is “down here?” Heaven is the kingdom of God; wherever God’s will is done. That means, if we get it right and accomplish God’s will here on Earth, Earth becomes heavenly. An alternative to our praying that God might turn Earth into heaven would be to realize that Earth is heaven and then act like we know it. That action would touch the heart of God better than any pleading prayer.
Only we can make God’s will be done on Earth as it is in heaven. Probably the best way to start is to recite The Lord’s Prayer.
Rev. Dr. Bob Miller represents the Union Congregational Church and United Church of Christ.