Treasonous Prayer

“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” How many people have memorized that line from Matthew 6, along with the rest of Jesus’s prayer, and recited it routinely without grasping the traitorous implications? I’m one.

I listened to part of a radio message recently from Pastor Philip De Courcy (you really do need to listen to him if for no other reason than to hear his accent! 😉 ) in which he made the point that this line from Jesus’s prayer is a radical, traitorous plea.

In His day, Rome’s kingdom ruled and Caesar’s will was to be done. For a good reason, the Jewish council stood before Pilate accusing Jesus of opposing Caesar (John 19:12).

Paul says in Philippians 3 that the believer’s citizenship is in Heaven. Meaning, if we think about it, that we are little more than guest workers here in the US or wherever else we might live.

Of course, we quickly explain, we actually have dual citizenship because God’s kingdom is spiritual. Jesus Himself said as much when He was answering Pilate: “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm” (John 18:36).

But how does dual citizenship work? In our spirits we obey God, but in our bodies we obey the government? We might draw that conclusion from Jesus’s answer to the question about paying taxes: “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:21).

Yet there’s that prayer — “Thy kingdom come.” It’s a plea for God to put an end to the machinations of Man and for Him to take His rightful place as Sovereign.

It’s also a statement of loyalty — I want You to prevail, Your kingdom to be triumphant, even over the kingdom in which I presently live.

I guess the biggest question is whether or not I mean the words I say when I’m quoting Jesus’s prayer. Is it His will I want? Am I passionate about His kingdom coming or would I prefer a cleaned up version of the one we have right here and now?

Honestly, it’s sobering to think what those words from the Lord’s prayer mean. I even thought about whether or not it was wise to title a post “Treasonous Prayer.” After all, the way the world is starting to look at Christians, we could well be accused of working against the “good of mankind,” and do I really want a written record about praying something treasonous?

Yes, actually I do because the real revolution that I am praying for must occur first in my heart, where I step off the throne and allow God to rule, to have His will prevail. How could I pray for His kingdom to come and then resist His takeover in me?

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Published in: on September 15, 2011 at 6:11 pm  Comments (5)  
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5 Comments

  1. I catch the traitorous implications when I recite it, and it makes me smile to know what I’m saying. Yet, it is bittersweet as I also realize that many are just moving their lips in empty ritual. Those whose primary residence is their earthly nation, and their true religion their political parties. Who believe being a law abiding citizen is evidence of their faith.This world is not my home. May the Kingdom of Heaven come, the dust of earth be blown away. God’s will be done, and not my own, nor that of any other who would try to claim authority over me. So be it.

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  2. So that explains why I often feel like a “mole!” Yet, I struggle with the implications of Plans so much larger for my life than I can begin to comprehend–and exactly where I stop obeying the Romans injunction to obey rulers of the land for my good and begin applying the Acts precedent, that we must obey God, rather than man!

    Clearly, the focus for me, in relinquishing control, is in the constancy of Christ’s Love and acceptance for me.

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  3. As usual thank you, Rebecca, for helping us to think about important things!

    @Patrick:
    May the Kingdom of Heaven come, the dust of earth be blown away.
    Yes!
    @Peggy
    So that explains why I often feel like a “mole!”
    Yes!

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  4. I often think we pray, “Thy will be done, but it better be done MY way!” Love this post. It’s so true. “God, be the King of my heart and the ground where I walk. Never let me forget Who is the real Lord of all of this!”

    Thanks, Rebecca!

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  5. Well put, and very true: under a ruler or government that claims divinity or divine attributes, authority, or responsibility for itself, or even one that merely denies the authority of the one true God over itself and its citizens, it is treasonous to pray for God’s kingdom to come and his will to be done. Because to a rebellion, loyalty to the rightful government is treason. (Just as “in the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is a dangerous radical.”)

    A couple of years ago, when President Obama was inaugurated, I remember reading on some blog somewhere (I don’t remember exactly) much the same point you’re making here about Rick Warren’s prayer of invocation, which he ended with something like, “in Jesus’ name, who taught us to pray, saying, Our Father …”—that this was a reminder to the new president and to the people that true allegiance and authority belong to the King of Kings, not to any temporal ruler.

    On the other hand, though, under a government that acknowledges God and submits to his authority (as Calvin’s Geneva, the Puritan settlements, and perhaps Constantine’s Roman Empire), to pray “thy kingdom come, thy will be done” is not only not treasonous, it is patriotic. Under leaders that demand we say “We have no king but Caesar” or “We have no king”, it is treason to say “Jesus is Lord” or to pray to God, “Thy will be done”. But if the government believed (as shown by its actions and its policies), like many leaders of the American Revolution said, that “We have no king but God,” the only treason would be to rebel against the one true King.

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