“Again, when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; they love to say their prayers standing up in the synagogue and at the street corners, for everyone to see them…when you pray, go into a room by yourself, shut the door, and pray to your Father who is there in the secret place…In your prayers do not go babbling on like the heathen, who imagine that the more they say the more likely they are to be heard. Do not imitate them…This is how you should pray:
Our Father in heaven, thy name be hallowed; thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us the wrong we have done, as we have forgiven those who have wronged us. And do not bring us to the test, but save us from evil” (Matthew 6:5-13, NEB).
|Guanacaste, Costa Rica|
There is a time and a place for family and public prayer. I do not deny that, nor do I criticize such practice in worship or at the family table. Though I must say some public prayer is grossly overdone. We need to be conscious of Jesus’ words about how, when, where, and what we pray. Jesus offered us an example in what we know as “The Lord’s Prayer.” In its simplicity it suggests what is important in our dialogue with God.
Standing before Pilate who represented the totalitarian power of the Roman Empire, John, in his gospel has Jesus say, I represent another Kingdom which is established, not by fighting, arguing, and bickering, but by the emergence of truth. The reason we are in such dark days now is because we have lost faith in the reality of this Kingdom (the emergence of truth) and have not maintained our allegiance to it. We buy into just about anything that is said without seeking out the facts of the matter and allowing truth to emerge.
We shall perhaps never agree on the meaning of the phrase, “Kingdom of God,” as Jesus used it. But so long as we say it mechanically as in The Lord’s Prayer, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done,” rushing through it with no content of meaning, we should not be surprised that nothing comes from it. It is just “words, words, words!”
In today’s ever-deepening darkness (as I see it) we ought to go into that closet, shut the door, and pray, “thy kingdom come,” or let truth emerge. “Thy kingdom come” means this for me: Don’t swallow whatever is said or written on Facebook, or proclaimed in the media, or by a politician, rather seek and pray for the kingdom, the emergence of truth. Otherwise we shall become a People of the Lie!