Monday, June 04, 2007

Psalm 51: The Lord's Prayer

I don't think you could say more dangerous words than these. I don't think you could pray a more radical prayer. I don't think you could wish for something that will turn your life more upside down than this. I think that most of the people who say these words would probably hesitate if they really understood what they were saying. I think we would all pause before we repeated this prayer if we clearly understood that we were actually praying upheaval into our lives. This is simply a prayer that can't be answered without the tearing down and rebuilding of many things in our lives. Had David prayed and lived this prayer, Psalm 51 wouldn't be in the Bible.

Here are the radical words I have been alluding to, "Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." I must admit that I don't always greet God's kingdom with delight. There are things that I want in my life and I not only want them, but I know how, when, and where I want them! I want my life to be comfortable. I want my schedule to be unobstructed and predictable. I want the people around me to esteem and appreciate me. I want control over the situations and relationships in my life. I want people to affirm my opinions and follow my lead. I want the pleasures that I find entertaining to be available to me. I want the ministry initiatives I direct to be well received and successful. I want my children to appreciate that they have been blessed with me as their father. I want my wife to be a joyful and committed supporter my dreams. I don't want to suffer. I don't want to live without. I don't want to have to deal with personal defeat or ministry failure. What I am saying is that I want my kingdom to come and my will to be done.

In this way, I stand with David. In David's kingdom, Bathsheba would be his wife. In David's kingdom, Bathsheba would have had no husband. In David's kingdom he could have Bathsheba and the blessing of the Lord on his reign at the same time. So, David acted out of zeal for his own kingdom, forgetting that he was sent as the ambassador of a Greater King. Sadly, I do the very same thing. I get mad at one of my children, not because they broke God's law, but because they broke mine. I get impatient with my wife because she is delaying the realization of the purposes of my kingdom of one. Or I get discouraged with God because he brings the very uncomfortable things into my life that I work so hard to avoid.

"Thy kingdom come," is a dangerous prayer for it means the death of your own sovereignty. It means your life will be shaped by the will of another. It means that you will experience the messiness, discomfort, and difficulty of God's refining grace. It means surrendering the center of your universe to the One who alone deserves to be there. It means loving God above all else and your neighbor as yourself. It means experiencing the freedom that can only be found when God breaks your bondage to you! It means finally living for the one glory that is truly glorious, the glory of God.

You see, the prayer that Christ taught us to pray is the antidote to sin. Since sin starts with the heart, it's only when my heart desires God's will more than it desires my will, that I'll live within the moral boundaries that God has set for me. And it is only God's grace that can produce this kind of heart.

"Thy kingdom come," words of surrender, words of protection, and words of grace that can only be prayed by those who've been delivered by the Redeemer from the one kingdom that always leads to destruction and death, the kingdom of self.

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