I have a special love for the prayer we call the Our Father. Just to let you know, I don’t believe Jesus gave it to us to recite. He wasn’t asked, “What do we say when we pray?” He was asked,”How do we pray?” Perhaps he would have been clearer if he would have responded to the question this way: “When you pray, talk to God in an intimate way as though he were your loving Father, not like some stern judge ready to condemn you. And don’t just ask that things in life go your way. Rather, pray that things go God’s way.” You get my drift.
Nevertheless, I am grateful for the fact that I was instructed to put the Our Father to memory. I spent my early years reciting it not paying attention to the meaning of its words, but in my more recent years, I have found my heart opening. I am particularly drawn in by the words, “Thy kingdom Come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
This past few months have been gruesome for our country and it seems now that things might get worse before they get better. I ask myself where is the Kingdom of God. Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God is among you.” (Luke 21:17) Really, Jesus? Really? When I pray, I pray to be able to see the Kingdom because it is hard sometimes.
I attend a support group and after we are done sharing, we always hold hands and pray the Lord’s Prayer together. I have been with other communities that did this as regular practice, but in this group, there is something different that happens when I pray. It comes after an hour or so of sharing our greatest concerns, our fears and joys. In this sacred place participants are free to be truly themselves. No one is any better or less than another. We speak heart to heart…a spirit connect. So when I say with my friends the words “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”, I revise the words a little in my head. “Thy kingdom is here among us,” I pray with my heart. “Thy will is being done, here in this room as we open ourselves up to one another, exactly as you intended when you said that the Kingdom of God is among us.”
It is my daily challenge to continue my meditation out into the rest of my life. By opening my eyes, I do see signs of the Kingdom. I see it in the love of a parent for a child. I see it in kindnesses people do for one another. I see the Kingdom whenever we are reminded that our enemy is a human being like ourselves. I see it when I see growth in nature and in people. I see it when children and kittens play or when athletes or musicians or laborers do their best. I see the Kingdom when families mend or when any contending groups, organizations, or even nations work out their differences in a peaceful manner.
My way of looking at the Kingdom of God may be different than most. I don’t look forward to it after I die as a form of comfort to get away from the world’s woes. I see it much like Thomas Ryan shares in his book Prayer of Heart and Body:
“The Kingdom of God is among you,” Jesus announced.
This Kingdom is not so much place as experience,
and eternal life has to do not so much with duration of time
as with depth, richness, intensity and fullness of living.