On Saturdays I’ll be writing reflections on prayer. Of the traditional Lenten spiritual practices, prayer is my cornerstone. Centering prayer, lectio, breath prayers are all ways of reminding us that God is always with us, always listening. It is our work to open our hearts and use our voice.
When asked about prayer in the eleventh chapter of Luke, Jesus taught his disciples what we know now to be the Lord’s Prayer: “Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.” This ancient prayer gives us words when we have no words, gives us a starting place and resting place. Many of us learned this prayer when we were very young on Sunday mornings. These are words I’ve heard over and over spoken at the bedside of a dying loved one. Our Father and Mother in heaven…
When we were at Candler, it seemed as though our professors took great delight in showing us all the things we thought we knew but hardly knew at all. They made it look so easy, it seemed. And when I think about how puffed up we young, know-it-alls were, it probably only took a mild wind to blow us over in those days.
I was reminded of those early seminary days when I recently read Richard Rohr’s piece about prayer: “Most Christians glibby recite `Thy Kingdom come,’ but this means almost nothing until and unless they also say, `my kingdom go.’” Zing. Slam. BOOM. That one hit the mark for me.
Companioning with`My kingdom go,’ might very well redirect our Lenten journey. Changing just those words certainly shifts this prayer for me. It stops me. It humbles me. It re-centers me. It brings me back into focus and back on path. My kingdom go. For these coming days, intentionally welcoming God’s kingdom while intentionally letting go of my own. Impossibly simple. And yet...what would shift? What would that mean to my words and deeds?
It might be very helpful for us when next time in corporate worship, we change these words and see what happens. As we look around the space at others in the pews or around the table, “my kingdom go…” Will we see differently when we speak these words to and for one another?