In Matthew 6 verses 9 to 13 Jesus told His disciples how they should pray and it went something like this:
Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
For me as a young Christian the Lord's prayer was meaningless and I remember it being said in school assemblies or funerals but I had no idea of its powerful message to us as Christians and also the relevance it has is today's society. Back in the days of Jesus, this kind of prayer would have been revolutionary as many people would not have felt comfortable being so personal with a God so revered and to call Him Father would've seemed extremely personal. However, when you look at it in more detail and consider each part of it, a rise of faith begins to stir and you realise that these simple sentences are actually the key to life and could change the world around us.
This prayer tells us how to address God, accept His awesome Holyness, ask for His Kingdom to be displayed on Earth, ask for His provision, forgive sins and how to love our neighbours, to be pure, to turn from the enemy and declare that the Earth is God's and will be forevermore. This is an incredible prayer and should in no way be brushed under the carpet in the way I used to.
But it's verse 10 in this passage which has been really stirring me, recently; Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. What's Jesus saying here? It seems to me that He is asking us to believe that the very power of God in Heaven can be displayed right here on earth, right now. Have you seen Heaven being displayed on Earth recently? Surely if Jesus is asking us to pray this then we should expect great things from Him, here and now.
In my church in Mid Sussex there seems to be a growing hunger to know our God in a new way. Not just in terms of receiving more blessings, which is all good, but in terms of actually expecting God to move in our meetings in ways we're not used to. People are desperate for God to use His Spirit in a whole new way and our times with Him on Sundays have been nothing short of exceptional.
That's all well and good within the confines of a church building and for those experiencing it but what about the rest of society on the outside? This blessing isn't just for the converted, it can be for everyone who wishes to accept it.
Jesus is very clear in this prayer. He doesn't say; 'in churches as it is in Heaven' - He says; 'on EARTH as it is in Heaven'. In other words, the very glory of Heaven needs to be poured out onto a dry and barren land in order to see His message reach all those who've never heard it before. This is our great commission - to boldly go where no man has... you get the message, right?
Now, two years ago, I wouldn't have labeled myself as an evangelist or someone who would go in search of the lost and tell them they need to sort their lives out as they'll meet a grizzly end if they don't. No. I was very much a 'I'm alright, Jack' kinda Christian and was comfortable with that. However, God doesn't do comfortable Christianity. In fact I would go as far as to say there's no such thing. Being a Christian takes a huge amount of faith and every day is a huge adventure. It has stretched me more than anything else I know. But I also know this: God loves those who don't love Him just as much as He loves those who do. HOW AMAZING IS THAT?
Now I see things a little differently than I did two years ago. If you are from the Mid Sussex area and have walked through a sleepy commuter's town called Haywards Heath on a Thursday lunchtime, you may have seen three people walking about trying to talk to people about the wonder-working power of our Creator God who lives and breathes and is ready to revive and heal people right there on the spot. Yes, I said heal. God is in the healing business in a massive way.
To give a little background, I felt back in November that God was wanting to bring His amazing message of salvation to the streets by using myself and my friend Gemma who also has the same desire to see His Kingdom on Earth. These days there are three of us, myself, Gemma and Jenny, going about the town every Thursday lunchtime praying and asking God to give us descriptions of people God would like us to bless or pray for (this style of evangelism is called Treasure Hunting). It has sometimes been very hard, but other times amazing like today.
Sometimes God is so amazing in His working out of a situation that I'm regularly left speechless by it. Today all I felt God say when I was on my way to pick Gemma up was; "A man in a blue jumper." We didn't know how this was going to happen but God did so we asked Him to show us who it was once we were three together in Haywards Heath. Within seconds we saw a guy on the other side of the road with another guy walking along and one of them was wearing a bright blue jumper. We trusted God that if this was our man then he'd cross over the road with his friend. And he did.
Seizing our opportunity Jenny and I approached our 'blue-jumpered treasure' while Gemma hung back and prayed for us to be used in this situation. I said: "Excuse me, mate, would you say your jumper was blue?" "Yes, I would," he replied with a slightly puzzled look. So I then explained that God had spoken to me earlier about a guy in a blue jumper and seeing as though he was the only person wearing a blue jumper, then it must be him who God was talking about. Looking at me with a smile, he just said; "I suppose I must be." Classic.
So we were then able to give brief testimony's about how amazing God is and give him words that God was speaking right there and then about how much God loved him and wanted the very best for him. All in all we spoke for about 10 minutes and were then able to pray with him. In case you're wondering about his friend, he was receiving some words of encouragement, too, from Gemma. These two guys were totally blown away by the fact that God was actually speaking directly to them and in that moment, Heaven had indeed come to Earth.
Not long after this, Jenny had a very strong feeling that God wanted us to cross the road and that He was going to give us someone else. Not long after we crossed the road, sure enough there was a guy that God immediately pointed out to Jenny and told her to tell Him what God thought of him and that he was so valuable to Him. This man immediately laughed and said that he knew God was on his case because He'd provided him with a new liver about four months ago and kept wondering if someone was keeping him alive! You see, God knows everything about everyone. What does He know about you?
In these two small encounters God met and astounded three people who were just going about their daily business and hopefully their lives will one day belong to the God who so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son Jesus Christ for.
So next time you read or pray out the Lord's Prayer really allow the words to resonate in your spirit and ask God what it is that you can do in order to fulfill His desire to see His Kingdom come on Earth. It may not be by approaching strangers on the street but it could be in other ways like randomly blessing someone with a meal or gift. It is so rewarding and if this blessing culture grows fast enough, it could very well change not just an area of Mid Sussex but a whole country. Now wouldn't that be something?