Many a theologian has written commentary on the Lord’s Prayer, and indeed, there are many aspects of it that cut to the heart of what Christian prayer means.
In Luke’s version, just before Jesus instructs the Apostles about how to pray to the Father, we see the Master Himself praying to Him.
St. Paul tells us that Jesus “emptied himself, taking the form of a slave” when he became man. As such, his humanity helps us to understand our own humanity, and how we as humans should pray to the Father.
After teaching them the words with which to pray, He goes on to speak about the frame of mind we should possess as we pray to the Father: one of trusting persistence.
I think sometimes we feel that God doesn’t hear us or doesn’t answer our prayers when we pray to Him because many times those prayers seemingly go unanswered or not answered in the way we think they should be.
This often leads us into the temptation of giving up or worse, thinking that somehow, because God has not answered my prayer in the way I think it should be answered, I have fallen out of favor with God. But when we say “your kingdom come,” we are essentially inviting God into the deepest part of our hearts and allowing him to establish his kingdom and reign there.
This can be a scary invitation because it means we have to give up control of our lives and allow someone else to take over. It is living with a degree of uncertainty and let’s face it, this is not a comfortable place to be.
But The Lord doesn’t aggressively “take over” in a hostile way; rather, he asks us to persistently trust that He sees the whole picture while our limited minds can only see part of the picture of our lives. This sacred bond of trust is where we encounter The Lord and begin to see our lives with His eyes and experience situations as he experiences them.
As this relationship of trust builds, life begins to take on a different meaning and purpose regardless as to what situation we find ourselves in. There is a liberating freedom that awaits us when we say “yes” to God.
Two ways in which that sacred bond of trust is broken is through sin and resentment. Sin severs that trust because we resort back to “our kingdom come” and thus, place our egos and limited world view at the center of our heart.
When we live in this way, we treat ourselves as gods and when someone wrongs us, we find it hard to forgive them, often times clinging to a resentment that enslaves us.
When Jesus says, “I no longer call you slaves, but friends,” he is acknowledging that human beings no longer need to live in such slavery, but invites us “to share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.”
However, we all know too well, that the usual human response takes time, and many of us are not ready for this. We tend to persistently cling to resentment and sin because, in our limited minds, we perceive it as being familiar and safe, but at the same time, we remain a state of unhappiness.
The Lord understands our human condition — better than we understand ourselves — and patiently waits for us.
As we continue our lives of faith, perhaps we can ask the Lord to instill in us a growing persistence to allow His Kingdom to come and reign in our hearts — always welcoming Him without fear.
The Rev. Chris Downey is pastor of Holy Family Catholic Church in Copperas Cove.