As always, sorry if this is not entirely intelligible, this comes from my first draft which I then make into notes and usually ignore half of them anyway when I talk…! Questions welcomed…
You can’t stress the important of the Lords Prayer enough, the very fact alone that it is called The Lords Prayer should be enough! it’s Jesus’ prayer. It’s the one he told us to say. The disciples asked him how shall we pray and this was his answer.
as Will said last week it is thought to be one of the most well known set of words in the entire world.
But with that comes familiarity too. and sometimes that’s good, I’m sure most of us could recite the Lords prayer without thinking too hard about it. Probably our kids can do too. I imagine those who are not regular church goers might find that too. It is something we learn at school, we say at official functions, maybe even in the workplace. but I wonder if in a way it’s become too familiar, that we say it, recite it without even thinking.
If you pray the Lords prayer, do you actually think about the words? do you actually consider what they say? what they mean?
These are words that the disciples asked Jesus, ‘teach us to pray’. Jesus taught them this directly and in this way we are repeating his own words, how much we can learn from him in just this prayer.
In fact there is so much you could say about the Lords prayer but I want to focus mainly on the line ‘Your Kingdom Come’ and what that might mean for us. When we pray that, what does it mean to us?
Your kingdom come – God, let your kingdom come on earth, let things here be as they are where you are. How powerful is that?
In the traditional version on the prayer we say: ‘Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’.
as it is in heaven – we are asking for life here to be like it is in heaven. Isn’t that the very core of our faith, to be seeking to be Godlike, Christ-like, heaven-like right here, and right now?
and that is in the prayer that is the most well known set of words in the world….. Imagine if whenever anyone prayed it they prayed it with a real heart and desire for it to be true – wow, who knows what might happen, imagine how powerful that would be!
But do we? I mean what does that line mean to you? I’ll tell you what it means to me…
My heart is to see the power and love of Gods kingdom, right here, in my life, right now. seeing people around me transformed, seeing people meeting with Jesus in his kingdom, seeing Gods kingdom come on this earth.
Thats I what that line means to me… it’s repeating the very essence of what I believe, your kingdom come. your will be done. God is in control, he is sovereign, we are seeking him and his will for our lives and our world.
But it doesn’t always happen quite like that does it? I mean I’m aiming for the skies. Yes of course God is always with us, his kingdom is all around us, but we don’t often see it in all its fullness, we don’t see regular real manifestations of Gods kingdom right here and now. In the bible, when Jesus heals people, he says Gods kingdom has drawn near to you or the kingdom of heaven is within you… that says to me that miracles like Jesus performed show us a slice of Gods kingdom, a place where people are not sick or unhappy or demonised…
When Jesus says to pray ‘your kingdom come’ (or may your will be done as it is in heaven) he is telling us to ask for the kingdom and all that entails.
What does the kingdom look like?
the bible says” it is a kingdom that will never be destroyed.. it will endure forever (daniel 2:44)
it is a kingdom that cannot be shaken – hebrews 12:28
God calls us to his kingdom 1 Thess 2:12
we share in the inheritance of his kingdom colossians 1:12
it is….. righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, Rom 14:17
and one of my faves:
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. 1 Cor 4:20
It’s interesting that Jesus shares this prayer and then follows it right away with 2 examples of persistance or ‘boldness’ as some translations say.
The guy knocking at his neighours door – and his friend inside – ‘man I’m in bed, we’re all tucked up, I don’t want to have to come down to the door’. I’m sure we all know that feeling, nice warm bed, about to drop off, perhaps the phone rings. Of course the last thing you want to do is answer it but chances are it might be important. What if that phone call was your neighbour asking for some bread – you might be a bit annoyed but chances are we would go and give them some. I don’t know about you but if my neighbour knocked on my door late at night I would think, thats odd, must be important right? that’s what Jesus is saying – the boldness of the guy knocking is the key. If he’d sat at home, thinking well I can’t go next door its too late they wont answer the door he would have got nothing… You have to try! You have to persist.
The dictionary says that to persist is:
- To be obstinately repetitious, insistent, or tenacious.
well I want to be obstinately repetitious for my God and King.
- To hold firmly and steadfastly to a purpose, state, or undertaking despite obstacles, warnings, or setbacks.
despite those: the setbacks... I mean that’s the key isn’t it. we pray for these amazing things to happen and then what if they don’t? well we question don’t we? “oh well what does Gods kingdom really mean?can he really heal? can he really speak to us today? does he really love us…? is he really there…?”
YES!!! he is, he can and he does. But we have to holdfast to that belief when it is not outwardly apparent.
How many of us have had amazing experiences or an encounters with God in prayer? perhaps someone has prayed for you, you’ve been to an event, or you have had something happen to you in your own prayer time by yourself. you know what I mean, sometimes we have those amazing encounters that seem to change the whole essence of your world. God reveals to you something in such a powerful way that you can’t help but be fired up. You want more, you can’t get enough.
but what happens? the enemy comes to steal, kill, destroy.... something happens, your prayer isn’t answered, theres a tragic occurence. what does Jesus say? don’t give up!! press in more. don’t let the NME take away the glory.
It’s so easy to fall back. sometimes the last thing you want to do or feel able to do is pray and yet in those times its probably when you need to most….
Shortly after I had a big experience/renewal of faith etc I got ill, ended up with exhaustion. I never stopped loving God, but sometimes I was pretty cross with him, couldn’t understand why I wasn’t getting healed. for 18 mths there was no improvement. repented/had prayer/ words spoken over me…. but nothing shifted. and Some days I just found it so hard to pray. I was tired, had no energy, would wake up feeling just as tired as when I went to bed. I usually pray first thing, and yet back then I would wake up just not being able to pray. It wasn’t even that I didn’t want to, I just found it hard.
But you know what, I tried to battle through. Because the victory is already ours. The devil cannot win a battle against us, because they are all already won, Jesus did that for us.
And those days where I did pray first thing, before doing anything else, were so much better than the ones where I didn’t. Took me a while to realise that unfortunately. there is something about giving your all that is so powerful. Giving to God out of pain, or weakness. i mean what does the bible say – when i am weak, He is strong…
and starting the day in prayer just is such an amazing thing to do, even now I find that each day is so much more peaceful if I pray first.
But for some of us, or in some situations disappointment in prayer or unanswered prayer can be the thing that just stops us from persisting. Last year, as many of you will know, we prayed for our friend Nix, who was suffering from cancer. We prayed for healing. When it became terminal we still prayed for healing. We believed wholeheartedly that God would heal her. Towards the end we prayed 24/7 in the summerhouse in her garden. We prayed right up to the last. And when she died we prayed for God to raise her.
because we believe that God can do that. we believed that God can heal, that God, the all powerful, sovereign king can overcome a terminal diagnosis, can overcome death. because he’s done it already.
There were people praying all over the world for Nix. There were masses of prophetic words telling of her future, of plans that God had for her. She went to Bethel church is the States and had an amazing encounter with someone there who didn’t know her or her situation but spoke life over her in great detail.
We believed God was going to act.
But he didn’t heal her and he didn’t raise her. Lovely Nix passed away, leaving her husband and 3 wonderful children behind.
I can’t tell you why that happened. I can’t tell you that we didn’t pray hard enough or in the right way or that we heard God wrong. because I don’t think any of that is true. We did everything we could, everything we thought God was saying. And despite what happened, I still believe that God heals today, I even believe that God wanted to heal her. I don’t believe that it was Gods intention for her to suffer and die as she did. But something happened, after all we live in a world where (1 Peter)
Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour..
I cannot tell you why Nix died. I cannot say why God did not step in and heal her. But I still believe he can. I still believe Gods word, in Matthew, the Great commission, Jesus says to his disciples,
therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you to do.
everything I have commanded you to do…. well he told them to heal the sick, raise the dead, cast our demons etc (Matthew 12) freely you have received, freely give.
So we have to do what he told us to.
In the aftermath of Nixs death I know I wasn’t the only one struggling. and we were friends but it wasn’t like I had lost my best mate. but the pain was more in the fact that we believed in God for his kingdom to come, on earth as in heaven, and as we saw it, it hadn’t. (I’m not saying it hadn’t, but certainly not as we expected)
But in all of that, that is probably one of the times I have felt most close to God, because we were with him, seeking him, hours each day. Man if you want to know God more, just get in his presence more. Without wishing to sound crass, that was amazing. I received some amazing words of revelation from God during that time, like never before and possibly like it never will be.
in the hurt, I would do it all again. I will persist.
I have seen small amounts of healing, I have seen friends who don’t know God be touched by the holy spirit, but I want more, this is small fry!
I don’t want to at all sound insensitive here, eg Nix family – unanswered prayer can be soul wrenchingly painful, when life or death is at stake, it takes a great deal to believe and it takes a great deal more to believe when you’ve given everything and it doesn’t happen.
is painful, it feels isolating, lonely, like God is ignoring you,
unanswered prayer can be crippling to ones faith.
But, it’s how we deal with that that can be so vital. If we give up, if we stop petitioning God or speaking to him, how do you think he feels. Perhaps we are in the most devastating and painful place we have ever been, and we shut him out, we are angry with him, we don’t want to listen.
But he wants to love us, comfort us, help us in our pain. The bible says that
You keep track of all my sorrows.[b]
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8
Isaiah: For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.
he is the `God of all comfort’
if we shut him out we are shutting the door to his kingdom.
Persisting in prayer isn’t always about dealing with pain, sometimes its just having the faith to continue praying for something for years if need be, even when you see no response.
St Peters, example: when opened, woman who had prayed for her husband al her life. When the church reopened he came, heard the word and got saved…
Phi’ls family – met some of his cousins at a family party and they told us that their parents had been been praying for him and his brother for the moment they were born….
If it takes years for a prayer to be answered, does it make it any less answered?!
So, when we pray your kingdom come, what are we asking for?
I’m asking for people to be healed, for lives to be transformed, for miracles to happen.
I guess I want to say to you today, what are you praying for? I saw Angus Buchan talk once and he said if your vision doesn’t scare you it isn’t big enough! Are we praying scary prayers? are we praying for the biggies? or are we playing it safe.
I feel like I have had little glimpses of what that means. A powerful time of prayer, or seeing someone healed of a dodgy foot. but just that, a glimpse. Well I tell you, I want more, I’m not settling for that. I want to see your kingdom come…
well I for one don’t want a safe, easy life.
32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. luke 12:32
Our father has been pleased to give us the kingdom – his kingdom. What? I mean God has given us access to his kingdom? do we even begin to know what that means? Have we even begun to see what that means, to experience it?