During worship today, I was reminded of Jesus’ model for prayer in Matthew 6. When the Lord gives me a word (or whatever you choose to call them), it usually starts as a vivid picture which then slowly expands in content, changing as meaning is revealed. Sometimes it explodes with meaning, multiple insights coming at once. And often, as in this case, it comes with a deep desire for the thing He’s revealing.
” Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. ‘ Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. ‘ Give us this day our daily bread. ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. ‘]
– Matthew 6:9-13
First, I saw that the start of prayer is to reach up to heaven where God is (“who is in heaven”) and call Him down, to ask for His kingdom to come – His kingdom, right here, in this very place, now, and completely. The thought startled me, as if it was shouted out to me, and it came with a deep longing for Him to come. Not just a little like He’s done so often, a tingle here, a rush there, a word here, a healing there. That all seemed like appetizers at a great banquet, a little something to make us hungry. We need to call down the banquet! “On earth as it is in heaven.”
The section of the model representing prayer for our situation here on earth, provision (“our daily bread”), forgiveness (“forgive us our debts…”), protection and deliverance (“…deliver us from evil”), sits between the call for His kingdom to come and the declaration that His is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. You have His kingdom and power and glory at the beginning and the end. Our lives sit in between.
As I continued to worship, the prayer turned into a picture of a beating heart with veins and arteries running in all directions, and I saw that His model prayer was, in a way, a summation of everything He was doing in His life, death and resurrection. Everything Christ did for us is in that prayer.
Later, during the sermon, pastor Darren read from Isaiah 64, mainly in reference to Paul’s adaptation of the middle verses, but it struck me how closely the entire chapter matches what I had received during worship, and I could see the connection between Christ’s model for prayer and Isaiah’s prayer for deliverance for Israel.
Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down, That the mountains might quake at Your presence— As fire kindles the brushwood, as fire causes water to boil— To make Your name known to Your adversaries, That the nations may tremble at Your presence! When You did awesome things which we did not expect, You came down, the mountains quaked at Your presence. For from days of old they have not heard or perceived by ear, Nor has the eye seen a God besides You, Who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him.
– Isaiah 64:1-4
We live in a time much like Isaiah’s. We have turned away from Him and are reaping the consequences. Like Israel in the days of the prophets, we need His kingdom to come, that He would “rend the heavens and come down”!
You meet him who rejoices in doing righteousness, Who remembers You in Your ways. Behold, You were angry, for we sinned, We continued in them a long time; And shall we be saved?
For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. There is no one who calls on Your name, Who arouses himself to take hold of You; For You have hidden Your face from us And have delivered us into the power of our iniquities. But now, O Lord, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand. Do not be angry beyond measure, O Lord, Nor remember iniquity forever; Behold, look now, all of us are Your people. Your holy cities have become a wilderness, Zion has become a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation. Our holy and beautiful house, Where our fathers praised You, Has been burned by fire; And all our precious things have become a ruin. Will You restrain Yourself at these things, O Lord? Will You keep silent and afflict us beyond measure?
– Isaiah 64:5-12
Finally, I was struck by a sense of the immediacy and intensity of the need for His kingdom to come. What will we do when the lights go out? How will we react when the enemy comes to arrest us and kill us for our belief in Jesus? Our only hope is in Him and we will need much more of Him than we now have to make it through those times without denying Him.
Anyway, like often happens after He speaks to me, I was exhausted by it and slept much of this afternoon. This song was playing in my head:
- June 29, 2014