EVER wonder about prayer? How to really feel its meaning, its power, rather than merely repeat a nice-sounding group of words?
When Christ Jesus gave us the Lord's Prayer, he surely wasn't thinking of this prayer in any ceremonial sense. He knew firsthand of its powerful meaning; he knew that the spiritual significance of these words heals any illness, solves any relationship problem. His own life and healing record grew from the essence of this prayer. So, can't we assume that we should forge our own lives after the spirit of this prayer?
If the initial part of the Lord's Prayer, as given in the Gospel of Matthew (see 6:9-13)--``Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name''!--acknowledges God's Fatherhood and greatness, then doesn't the next line--``Thy kingdom come''--give us strong guidance as to what our true goal and aspiration should be: to see more of God's kingdom?
What is this kingdom? Since God is Spirit, the nature of His kingdom must be spiritual. Such a kingdom is not far off or remote, but it is not apparent to the material senses. Christ Jesus said, ``The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you'' (Luke 17:20, 21). To the degree we discern ourselves as the offspring of divine Spirit, we can learn to find this kingdom of Spirit operative in our everyday lives.
Within the kingdom of Spirit, God is the only ruler. And it only makes sense that an all-good God governs everything in His kingdom in goodness and harmony. He's not ruling as an arbitrary potentate but as man's loving Father-Mother. Through the stories and lessons of the Bible, we can see that God provides man, who is actually His own image, with strength, peace, security, and health. Out of His great love, God makes all that is made and cares for each individual in that creation continuously and forever. Love's law does not allow evil--be it sin or injury or disease--to invade man, God's beloved child.
This heavenly kingdom may at times seem abstract or distant. But our place in God's kingdom is secure and eternal. One way of thinking of prayer is as the God-sent means for recognizing the goodness and security that forever exist, but which are invisible to the material senses. Prayer involves yielding up the material sense of being, which the Bible reveals as inherently false and deceptive, and restoring our spiritual sense of God's kingdom, His presence and power. The Founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist, Mary Baker Eddy, writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ``Prayer cannot change the Science of being, but it tends to bring us into harmony with it'' (p. 2).
Often, those praying are most concerned with having an immediate need met. And, of course, there is nothing wrong with such a motive. Yet when we pray ``Thy kingdom come,'' we are praying to have our worldly desires--be they overt or subtle--replaced with heavenly aspirations.
The wonderful thing is that the things we truly need become apparent as a result of this more spiritual prayer.
Why is this? Isn't it because existence itself comes from God? If we understood God with complete clarity, as Jesus did, then we would know heaven. We would be conscious only of God's love and of how it was meeting every need at that moment. This, surely, is the highest possible meaning of ``Thy kingdom come''!
Of course, our own identities do not disappear in this state. They grow clearer. Real life is found only in the Life which is God. There is health here. And there is harmony and peace. There is abundance here, too, because these qualities are actually spiritual, and as such, they are inexhaustible. If we were to pray ``my kingdom come''--self-seeking rather than God-seeking--then we would be missing what is already here as a part of God's creation.
So, if we have needs--large or small--we can find them met through a deep desire to see God's kingdom come. He has already made this kingdom, and it is already within us. Our part is to understand increasingly more of what this kingdom is and how we can demonstrate it in our lives. This is praying in the spirit of the Lord's Prayer.