“Then something special happened.
Somehow this collection of words morphed from being the Lord’s Prayer to becoming a model of prayer for me. They went from being an object for rote recitation to something alive.
It became a model for teaching me not only how to pray, but also how to live.”
– Bruce Green, Praying in the Reign
My copy of the book opens with this:
Bruce was one of my youth ministers (if we used that term back then) when I was a teenager, even though looking back, he wasn’t much older than I was. He was one of my favorites.
Bruce and another of my favorites, Barry, held many a devotional on weeknights in the back of Barry’s feed-and-seed store in downtown Madison (back when it was a quiet little town). We’d sit around on feed bags to listen and talk about scripture and Jesus.
But now that we’re grown up, we rarely see each other. So I was delighted to sit at Bruce’s feet again in his book Praying in the Reign about the Lord’s Prayer.
Bruce breaks the Lord’s Prayer into seven sections, then subdivides these even further with theological explanations but also with demonstrations of how the Lord breathes and moves behind the words.
“It is not a formula of words to be mindlessly repeated, but a spiritual pattern to guide and shape us. It is not an end in itself, but a means of leading us into a deeper righteousness.”
Because I recite this prayer often at the end of my Centering Prayer time, I appreciated hearing a fresh perspective on the individual phrases.
For example . . .
“When mercy and kindness are shown—the kingdom comes. When someone chooses forgiveness over bitterness—the kingdom comes. When the oppressed are uplifted—the kingdom comes. Whenever God’s will is enacted on earth—the kingdom comes.”
And this . . .
“Take the little word ‘for,’ which connects the doxology with the last part of the prayer about being delivered from evil. We pray this prayer of deliverance because (‘for’), ‘Yours is the kingdom.’“
Just as I remembered, Bruce is still very intelligent, still good with words, and still very kind. I’m grateful to connect with him again (even if one-sided this time) through this book.
“So I ditched the word ‘dependent’ for ‘desperate.’ If someone is desperate for something, they have to have it. They can’t survive without it. The Psalmist says, ‘As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God’ (42:1). We are more than dependent upon God; we are desperate for Him.”
* ~ *
“Typically in our speech (if not in our thinking), we reserve the phrase, ‘God answered our prayers,’ for those times when God has brought about the results we desired. But these words can be a poor way of expressing our understanding of prayer as well as God’s work. It can also crush the spirits of others, because it sounds as if we’re saying He hasn’t answered the prayers of those who didn’t get the results they desired.”
* ~ *
“When we submit to Christ, we enter into not just the kingdom (John 3:5), but we take our first step into heaven as well.”
revised from the archives
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- On the Blog—August 2022
- When You Need Extraordinary Grace on an Ordinary Day