Molding a lump of clay

Molding a lump of clay
I am a work in progress, molded by my Maker, refined by His fire, shaped with His love. Walk the journey with me.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Fifty-seven Words that change the World

I didn't think I would be so amazed to read a book about the Lord's prayer...after all, I've heard lots of sermons about it, and somehow, naively, ignorantly, felt I pretty much knew the gist of it all. What more was there to know?


I really should know better
than to think I have it all figured out. How many times does God have to say, "Yoo hoo! Think you missed something here..."? But Thank You, God, that You do keep flashing the neon signs in my face until I take notice. Thank You that You do desire to communicate with me. I just wish I could get it quicker.

But at least I'm
getting it, and it's truly amazing.
This book breaks down the
57 words of the Lord's prayer (based on the original Greek and the prayer recorded in Matthew 6) into 7 lines: the first line is the opening address to Our Father in Heaven, and the other 6 are petitions (hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, give us our daily bread, forgive us our debts, lead us not into temptation).

So far so good. So what's so amazing?

The way Mr. Johnson opens up each of those 7 sentences, for me, is new and fresh and inspirational. It makes me wonder why I never saw it that way before.

And the funny thing is, as a new believer, I used to pray this prayer every morning first thing as I went for my run. I was actually more in tune with it then than I am now. Which brings up the issues of passivity and complacency, but I'll get to those in another post...I can only deal with so much conviction at a time.

So Mr. Johnson starts by unpacking the phrase, "Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name," and shows how it's like asking God to make His name Holy, to be all who He is in this world around us, essentially to say, "O Father, be all that you are on earth that you are in heaven." It's active, dynamic. It shows life and intention. You can almost
feel the beating heart of the Father.

Jesus knew God wanted to be manifest in all His glory right here, where we live, in our lives, so He said, frankly,
"Pray it into being. Petition the Father to be all He is right there in your life, no matter how grimy, how shamefilled, how miserable. Don't limit the One who can put it all right. Call on Him in all His fullness and see what He will do!"

And when I get beyond my own navel-gazing and remember there's a whole world of lost and broken people right here in the middle of Africa, I realize that praying for God to be all He is in the lives around the prisons and soldiers barracks, with all the rampant alcoholism and beatings; in the poverty, the disease, the animist worship, the corruption, the war...has the power to make a difference. It could radically alter those realities.
It really could change the world.

And that's just a brief summary of what Mr. Johnson said about that first opening line of the prayer. He then delves into the first petition..."Your kingdom come"...and again my eyes are opened to a new understanding.

He talks about how the kingdom is both "already, and not yet"...that since the King has come, the Kingdom has com
e, and because the King is still to come, the Kingdom is also still to come. Again, I've heard this before put a bit differently, but what struck me was a paragraph addressing our response to this knowledge.

Here's what he wrote:

"We mere human beings...
we can ask for the unveiling of the Kingdom of God? Yes! If the Church of Jesus has been given this privilege, then why haven't we exercised it more intentionally? Perhaps it is because we have not understood the privilege. Perhaps it is that we have not wanted to submit our lives to the King. We may have wanted the benefits and blessings of the Kingdom, but we have not been willing to align our lives with his rule. Or perhaps it is that we know the coming of God's rule means the end of our rule. Perhaps the church has not fervently prayed for the Kingdom because we know it is dangerous to do so; the King just might answer and start turning everything upside-down!"

Gulp. Avert eyes. Swallow dryly. Blush.

Chastened. Convicted. Ouch.

I believe I can honestly say I desire to submit my life to the Lord, to align my will with His, and let Him rule in my life. But I also admit the fickleness of my heart...let's face it, I want some of the glory. I'm not good at obscurity. I want recognition, a few
(or many) pats on the back. Letting God fully rule is not so easy for me, no matter how much I long for it.

Sometimes I feel like that horrible Lucy who continually pulls the football away just when Charlie Brown runs up to kick it.
...not to say that God is like Charlie Brown, but I wonder how much I dangle the so-called offering of my life in front of God, only to snatch it away when I want it back.

The heart is willing but the flesh is so weak!

My desire is to be able to genuinely pray this prayer suggested by Mr. Johnson:

"Father, manifest the already-ness of your rule in my life. Break through any darkness; King Jesus, illuminate every corner of my life with your healing light. Father, break through any resistance in my soul; King Jesus, humble me, forgive me, cleanse me. Father, break the bondage that enslaves me; King Jesus, free me, restore me. Father in heaven, break through the patterns of my life that support or perpetuate injustice; King Jesus, give me courage to follow you come what may."

I can't pray that kind of prayer in my own strength, and thankfully I don't have to. But I
can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Amen.


Laurie Ann said...

What a great post! I love the Lord's prayer and this is a book I'm gonna read!

Stacy said...

Congrats on your recent blog recognition. I am enjoying reading your posts. God bless, Stacy