For Lent this year we will be focusing on the Lord's Prayer, both on Sundays and on Wednesday evenings. As a companion to the series, we are encouraging all members to obtain and read the devotional booklet Book of Faith Lenten Journey: 40 Days with the Lord's Prayer. The book can be ordered online at that address for $10
I encourage you to begin thinking now about taking on this spiritual journey, and about journeying together intentionally with others. Consider who you could invite into a small group to share learnings and experiences, or journey together with your spouse as a couple.
Here is a sample from the booklet.
Your kingdom come . . .
Most of us worry a lot. We are fearful creatures, full of anxiety. There seems to be good reason. We live in a competitive if not cutthroat world, and we wonder and worry if there will be enough for us. It is hard to feel secure when financial institutions fail, when prices go up and salaries don’t, when the housing market collapses, when pensions fold, when healthcare costs skyrocket, when both personal and national debt goes through the roof. Most of us worry a lot—both the well-off and the not-so-well-off. When we pray “your kingdom come,” we are seeking a way out of worry, a way beyond fear.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus shows a deep understanding of human anxiety. He pinpoints our many worries about what we will eat and what we will drink and what we will wear—metaphors for the many fears, anxieties, desires, cares, and distractions that constantly consume us. Then he asks a question that we would all do well to ponder: “Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing, ” (Matthew 6:25-31). It is—if life is lived under the rule of God.
Rather than worry about what we will eat or drink or put on, Jesus suggests that we trust God for all that. If we did, we would discover that we need much less than we think we do to have a life that is good for us and for others. God knows what we need, and rather than focus on all that, we should “strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).
In the Gospel of Luke, right after telling his followers to strive first for the kingdom, Jesus tells them: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). Another paradox. God gives us the kingdom; we must strive for it. God gives us the kingdom. God has created the world in such a way that if everyone were satisfied with enough there would be enough for everyone. It is for us to strive for such a reality. When we pray “your kingdom come,” we pray that God would bring about equity and fairness and dignity and richness of life for everyone. And we pray that we would not take more than enough of what God provides until everyone has enough.
I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance. As it is written, “The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little.” 2 Corinthians 8:13-15
Unexpectedly, quite surprisingly, politics has crept into our Christian praying at this point. Here we were, talking about God, heaven, holiness, and suddenly we find ourselves in the middle of a political argument about a kingdom, transferred to some new place that calls into question the old places in which we have lived. We have not prayed, “Lord, bless our nation,” or “Lord, protect my family.” We pray “your kingdom come.”
Silence for Meditation
Questions to Ponder
• Is it true that we need much less than we have to live a happy, meaningful life? Explain.
• If, as Jesus suggests, life is more than food and the body more than clothing, what is life really about?
• In what ways does your faith community both receive and strive for the kingdom of God?
I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. Psalm 16:7
· Make a list of things you worry about.
· Can you imagine a life without worry or anxiety? What would have to change to relieve your worries?
· If you were to “strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” what would that mean for you and how might that change things for you?
Prayer for Today
God, let me cast my worries on you, trusting you know better than I what I truly