Since 2015 I’ve been on a quest to discover how God is at work. You see, I serve with a mission organization, One Challenge. In 2015, we adopted a new strategy statement, which says: “We ask how God is at work, then assist the Body of Christ to bring God’s transformation to individuals, communities and nations.” It seemed logical, then, to ask how is God at work? So the Global Research Team, on which I serve, then spent the better part of a year and a half searching the scriptures to discover how God is at work in the world and applying those insights to our work.
When it was time for us to organize a gathering for all the mission information workers in our organization back in September 2016, we came to the consensus that “Asking how God is at work” should be our conference theme. There I shared a brief presentation on the biblical basis of how God is at work in the world.
Upon returning home from the conference, our pastor asked me to share a twenty minute message on Mission Sunday. It seemed fitting to share something about God at work. But my great challenge was to identify one passage that touched upon the many ways that God is at work in the world. After some reflection I was surprised to conclude that the Lord’s Prayer touched on many of these themes. Thus the Lord’s Prayer became the text of my sermon.
A few weeks later I was visiting with a friend at church who is a Bible professor at Taylor University. He remarked: “I teach a class on the Lord’s Prayer, and I’ve read a lot of books on the Lord’s Prayer. So when you said you were speaking on the Lord’s Prayer, I was attent to see if you had any new insights into the Lord’s Prayer. My friend, you did not disappoint.”
I thought I might write a blog series about the Lord’s Prayer, coming at it from the angle of what we discover about how God is at work in the world and how he invites us to join him in what he is doing. Writing a series is a lot of work, beyond what I have time to do. So here is a summary of seven ways God is at work in the world based on the Lord’s Prayer.
Seven ways we discover God at work in the Lord’s Prayer
- “Our Father in Heaven” – God is at work building his Family here on earth
- “Hallowed by Your Name” – God is at work bringing glory to his name on earth
- “Your Kingdom Come” – God is at work establishing his kingdom on earth
- “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” – God is at work bringing the perfections of heaven to earth
- “Give us today our daily bread” – God provides us with all we need for living & so much more
- “Forgive us our debts” – God is at work restoring relationships
- “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.” – God is at work delivering us from temptation and the wile s of the Devil, aka Satan, the Evil One.
The breadth God’s work described in the Lord’s Prayer is quite mind boggling!
I’ve come to view each phrase of the Lord’s Prayer as an iceberg. As we know, the proverbial “tip of the iceberg” points to a huge mass of ice below the water’s surface. So it is with the Lord’s Prayer. Each phrase points to a greater reality found in the biblical narrative. This point really struck me back in 2012. As I was reading through the Bible, I started to jot down passages that were related to the seven parts of the Lord’s Prayer in a section in my journal. To date, my list covers 56 hand written pages! Each phrase of the Lord’s Prayer points us to a greater reality of how God is at work in the world. There is much more going on “below the surface” than is immediately apparent.
So what does all this mean for us?
Do you see that God invites us to join him in what he is doing in the world? Simply put, there are many things that God calls us to do, but the first and greatest thing God invites us to do is to pray. That is the whole intent of the Lord’s Prayer, to pray, isn’t it? We pray. God works. So if you want to see God at work, start by praying the Lord’s Prayer today.
Here is a great book on the Lord’s Prayer
I’ve just finished reading Darrell W. Johnson’s book on the Lord’s Prayer, Fifty-Seven Words that Change the World: A Journey Through the Lord’s Prayer. This short book (119 pages) is full of insights into the Lord’s Prayer. I heartily recommend it.