OUR FATHER, WHO ART IN HEAVEN, HALLOWED BE THY NAME.
THY KINGDOM COME, THY WILL BE DONE ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.
GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD.
AND FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO TRESPASS AGAINST US.
AND LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION, BUT DELIVER US FROM THE EVIL ONE.
FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM, AND THE POWER, AND THE GLORY FOREVER AND EVER. AMEN.
The Lord’s prayer is the first “real” prayer I memorized as a child as it is for most of us who grew up in church. Certainly, I learned “Now I lay me down to sleep” and “God is great, God is good” first, but the Lord’s Prayer is the first prayer from the Bible. Praying it has brought me great comfort over the years. In times of grief, fear and stress I discover myself saying the words in my head without realizing I started. Knowing God is in heaven and is in control when all that surrounds me is out of control brings great comfort and peace.
I just completed five years as your associational missionary. As I reflect on the shift from local church pastor to associational missionary, it is somewhat ironic that the greatest lesson I have learned is embedded in this prayer—one I have known since I was 3 or 4 years old. That lesson is one of emphasis — the emphasis is on the kingdom of God.
We all know this command–“seek ye first the kingdom of God.” It is in the same chapter as the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6:33). As a local church pastor, I certainly understood that the work of the church is kingdom work. What I did not understand, however, is what that work looks like when viewed as a whole.
What I did not, and could not, understand from that position is how the work of the kingdom is interconnected. I had to leave the seat of pastor and move to the seat of area missionary to see more clearly how and why God has so many different expressions of church. I can see more clearly how the Holy Spirit is in control and moving across our region. I see how God puts flesh on our living witness in this region from church to church in ways I could not see from the perspective of one church.
This is a lesson only learned with a change in perspective. I lived in South Dakota for six years. It is known as the “Rushmore State” and one of the sayings is “Great Faces, Great Places” because of Mt. Rushmore. Mt. Rushmore is one of those experiences that the postcards cannot capture. To truly understand and experience what was chiseled out of rock by men hanging in leather straps, one must see it in person.
When one is driving on the road behind Mt. Rushmore you cannot see its true grandeur. One sees the stone and the trees and you know it is called Mt. Rushmore, but from that perspective, you only see a beautiful mountain—big deal. It is not until you come around to the monument side of the mountain that the picture become clear and you see the “Big Deal!”
The kingdom of God is a “Big Deal!” I thought I had kingdom perspective as a local church pastor and I did, but it was a limited perspective. I have a different perspective now because God moved me to a different role in the kingdom. In this role, I can see how big, great and good the kingdom truly is. I can better appreciate what “seek ye first the kingdom” means. I more clearly understand what I am asking God when I pray “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done” and “For thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever.” We are indeed praying for God to bring His kingdom into every nook and cranny of Collin County and beyond. We live for the day when every girl, boy, woman and man experiences a living witness to the Kingdom of God—the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Thank you for calling me to serve the church from my missionary seat. The view from this side of the kingdom is incredible! Let us keep praying together for His Kingdom to come and for his will to be done with confidence for His is “the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.”
NOTE: This version of the Lord’s Prayer is the “Catholic Children’s Version.” I am not exactly sure why it is the version I was taught growing up in Baptist churches, but nevertheless it is the one I learned. The textually correct prayer is found in both Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4.