The Most Dangerous Prayer for Pastors
I don't think you could say more dangerous words than those found in the Lord's Prayer. I don't think you could pray a more radical prayer. Probably most of us, even in ministry, would hesitate to say these words if we really understood what we were saying. We would at least pause before repeating this prayer if we clearly understood that we were actually inviting upheaval into our lives and ministries. This prayer can't be answered except through the tearing down and rebuilding of many things in our lives.
Here are the radical words I have been alluding to: "Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10). I must admit that I don't always greet God's kingdom with delight. I want certain things in my life, and I not only want them, but I know how, when, and where I want them. I want my life and ministry to be comfortable. I want my schedule to be unobstructed and predictable. I want people to esteem and appreciate me. I want control over the situations and relationships that I cannot avoid. I want people to affirm my opinions and follow my pastoral lead. I want the ministry initiatives I direct to be well received and successful.
When I am off the ministry clock, I want the pleasures that I find entertaining to be available to me. I want my children to appreciate that they have been blessed with me as their father. I want my wife to be a joyful and committed supporter of my dreams. I don't want to suffer. I don't want to live without. I don't want to have to deal with personal defeat or ministry failure. It is humbling to admit, but I want my kingdom to come and my will to be done.
Our Own Way
In this way I stand with everyone in Scripture from Cain to Peter who wanted his own will or who followed his own way. Think of King David. What a high calling to be part of a kingdom that would never end, out of which the Messiah would come. But in David's claustrophobic little kingdom of one, Bathsheba would be his wife. In David's kingdom, Bathsheba would not have already been married. In David's kingdom he could have Bathsheba and the blessing of the Lord on his reign at the same time. So David acted out of zeal for his own kingdom, forgetting that he was sent as the ambassador of a greater King.
Sadly, in life and ministry, you and I do the very same thing. I get mad at someone not because he broke God's law but because he broke mine. We get impatient with others because they seem to delay the realization of our kingdom's purposes. Or we get discouraged with God because he brings the very uncomfortable things into our lives that we work so hard to avoid.
"Your kingdom come" is a dangerous prayer, for it means the death of your sovereignty. It means your life and ministry will be shaped by the will of another. It means you will experience the messiness, discomfort, and difficulty of God's refining grace. It means surrendering the center of your universe to the One who alone deserves to be there. It means loving God above all else and your neighbor as yourself. It means experiencing the freedom that can only be found when God breaks your bondage to you. It means finally living for and ministering for the one glory that is truly glorious, the glory of God.
The prayer that Christ taught us to pray is the antidote to sin in. Since sin starts with the heart, I'll only live within the moral boundaries God has set when my heart desires God's will more than it desires my own. No set of ministry disciplines, no wonderful strategic plan, and no reformation of leadership culture can produce a heart that functionally and joyfully submits to God's kingdom and glory. Only God's powerful transforming grace can produce this kind of heart.
Only those being delivered by death, who desire to escape the kingdom of self that always leads to destruction and death, pray "Your kingdom come"---words of surrender, words of protection, and words of grace. Are you willing to say, "Lord I commit to doing everything I do, saying everything I say, and choosing everything I choose for the sake of your kingdom and not mine"? Do you find joy and hope in knowing that as God calls you to live and minister for his kingdom he frees you from being in bondage to your little kingdom of one? And do you daily seek grace freely given so you may say "yes" to both questions?