Let it Be
Let’s start with a little review. As we’ve said before, in a few different ways now, the kind of miracles you get are mediated by your concept of God. Small God idea, small God experience. That’s why so much of the work we do around here has to do with taking down barriers, challenging expectations, and being open to God having a better idea than we do. Spirituality is the science of getting out of God’s way, after all. You know all that, but I wanted to hit that point one more time. It’s important in general, of course, but it’s also key to understanding the next part of our Lord’s Prayer:
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. (Matthew 6:13, NASB)
It’s easy to read this last part, perhaps because it’s the last part, as a throwaway line; something like "well, nice talking to you, God." That’s not the case, though. Part of the brilliance of Jesus Christ’s teaching has to do with simple efficiency - everything said is profoundly straightforward, free of jargon and barriers to entry, and not a single word is wasted. Not one. What He said was, is, so beautiful and uplifting that it pays to hang on every word. In the interest of knocking down walls, let’s be the kind of people who don’t believe in accidents or trivial words.
Some people read that last line as flattery. Maybe they’re used to a transactional relationship with God; for them, part of the prayer process has to do with buttering God up so that He’ll do you a favor.
Let’s think that through for a second. God knows Who He is already, right? The alternative, that He has some kind of inferiority complex and needs to be cheered up, is pretty weird. Either way, the idea that obsequiousness is some kind of spiritual virtue is downright creepy. I’ve tried to get my way through flattery once or twice. It never worked, at least partly because the other person could see right through me. Can you imagine that God would be fooled? Besides, either God is a Loving Parent, or God doesn’t really want me to be happy, but He’ll help me out if I say nice things about Him. Which option makes more sense, given what we’ve read, and discussed, and know in our hearts?
As it turns out, both sides of the transactional paradigm are flawed. Not only does God not require back scratching, but getting ours scratched isn’t the point of prayer, either. Remember, the goal of prayer is not delivering a shopping list to God. After all,
...your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. (Matthew 6:8, NASB)
We don’t pray so that God can take our orders. It’s time to grow past fast food spirituality and into something with nutritional value. The goal isn’t transaction or attraction. The object of the prayer process is a knowing, an experience of Spirit. We pray to make room for God in our minds and hearts, and our lives get filled up as a result. Just as Solomon learned (1 Kings 3:9), manifestation is never the goal; instead, it’s the natural, inevitable byproduct of an understanding heart.
Okay. So the "kingdom, power, and glory" line isn’t superfluous, and it’s not an ego trip. What is going on there, then? Glad you asked. Let’s break it down:
The Kingdom: we start here, because our prayers should be in acknowledgement that we’re not trying to make God show up in our lives. He is already here. We are also not trying to impose our wills on the universe. Finally, we pray with the understanding that we are seeking a consciousness of good for all. This is an echo, in a sense, of the "Our Father" idea that started us off. There aren’t good people and bad people, holy places and broken places. It’s God’s Kingdom we are in, right now. Something changes when we see it that way.
The Power: this is about radical monotheism, the idea that there is only one Presence and Power in the universe. No exceptions. We pray with this in mind, because we want to remember that whatever is happening is the Holy Spirit in action. We aren’t praying to overcome an adversary; there is no adversary in God. We aren’t praying to paddle against a current, we are praying to surf along with the waves, knowing that the tide will always carry us home.
The Glory: party time. If we are always in God’s Kingdom, and if every moment is God in action, then every experience is a miracle. We pray in celebration, in joyous thanksgiving for every demonstration, big or small. A good parking spot is a miracle; see it that way and you’re on your way to bigger experiences. This is a Matthew 25:23 moment. Of course, the best way to show gratitude for a gift you’ve been given is to use the gift. We pray in the consciousness that we’ll take the fruits of prayer into action, and that the best way to serve God is by being of service in the world.
And you know what forever means. Let’s start now.