Jesus teaches about the nature of the Kingdom of God and makes clear that citizens of that kingdom are not about promoting themselves. Media, promotion, public relations, marketing - all that is priority stuff in our culture. And the idea that we must do our best to remain front page news has been around a while. The Irishman Oscar Wilde wrote in the late 1800s - "The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about." The Pharisees and religious hypocrites of Jesus' day had the same self-serving concern. They made grand entrances and blew trumpets prior to giving their offering at the temple. During their fasts they made themselves up to look as miserable as possible to impress onlookers. And when they prayed, they loved to pray aloud on the street with long, articulate prayers. All these activities, intended to bless God, were abused to exalt self.
Jesus teaches lesson after lesson on the humble secrecy of true spirituality. Our giving, fasts and prayers are not for anyone but God. Not that we cannot participate in corporate worship or prayer, but that we recognize that our audience is an audience of One. Our spiritual purpose is to serve God, no one else.
In today's text we also have what is known as The Lord's, or The Model, Prayer. In this prayer we hear Jesus' clarification of our priorities. First, God is called "Father" with the word "abba," which is more specifically translated, "Daddy." This is the familiar, affectionate form of the word and so shows that our first priority is intimacy with God. Prayer is for drawing near to the heart of God. It is in His lap, our ear pressed to His chest, that we come to know His heart, His priorities. Second, there are three phrases spoken in parallel form that give us our triune priorities for living. "May your name be revered as holy; May your kingdom come; May your will be done -- on earth as it is in heaven." Jesus is speaking to each of us. We must take these priorities personally. We can't pray for and hope for these realities and not expect that we are each personally responsible to do our part. We are not to set ourselves apart to be awed. We are not to build our own little empire. We are not to influence others to perform our bidding. All that belongs to the Lord.
Before exploring The Prayer any further, that is quite a huge chunk to swallow and digest. It challenges us to ask ourselves - How do I demonstrate my reverence for the name of God each and every day? How do I reflect His character, defer to His power, cooperate with His purposes, enhance His reputation (all aspects of His Name.) How am I a conduit of God's coming kingdom? Jesus rules in His kingdom. Does He rule in my heart? Do I submit to His Lordship in all things? Do I know the will of God and how it specifically applies to my circumstances? Am I seeking to grasp the desires of God's heart to fulfill them? How obedient am I to the will of God that I have already come to know?
This is an amazing prayer. Just two sentences in and I have a divine assignment that will last my lifetime. But isn't that what most people are looking for -- their purpose; their reason for being? Because of The Prayer, I know why I exist. I exist to glorify God's holy name as a partner in ushering in His Kingdom through obedience to His will.
So, would I rather be front page news for fifteen famous minutes? Not a chance.
Pray: Dear God, my precious Dad, help me to make your name great everywhere I go in everything I do. Use me to usher in more of your heavenly dominion right here on earth. Help me to know what Your heart desires so that I might run out and get it for you. Let all this be my labor of love for You all the days of my life.