Actually, it wasn’t the prayer that bothered him; it was the way we had changed the prayer. It had been my suggestion to pray the Lord’s Prayer every Sunday during this year-long, every-member mission trip we’re on, and to say, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, in Richmond as it is in heaven.” It’s the prayer we’ve been saying in staff meetings for four years. It’s a way to focus our attention—and our mission—on this place we call home.
But it bothered this man to hear it that way. It bothered him, first of all, because we were changing the words of the Lord’s Prayer—words Jesus himself had spoken. He didn’t think we should do that. We should leave it the way it is. But the other thing that bothered him is that we were praying for God’s kingdom to come in Richmond and he lived in Deltaville. He said it made him feel left out.
And that’s what got me.
I don’t think it bothers Jesus when we pray that God’s kingdom will come in Richmond as it is in heaven. Jesus loves Richmond. He wants the kingdom to come here. But Jesus also loves Deltaville. He wants the kingdom to come there, too. Maybe that’s why he taught his disciples to pray the way he did, because he didn’t want anybody on earth to feel left out of God’s love, God’s will, God’s kingdom.
That doesn’t mean we’re changing the name of our mission trip to KOH2THEWORLD. It helps to start where we are and work outward. I think that’s why Jesus told his disciples that they would be his witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea and all of Samaria, and to the ends of the world. He had the world in mind from the beginning, but in the beginning he told his disciples to start where they were.
I could say the same to my friend from Deltaville. I could ask him to pray—fervently—that God’s kingdom would come and God’s will would be done in Deltaville as it is in heaven. And not only to pray for it, but to work for it, to roll up his sleeves and make it so. If every Christian, everywhere, would do that, I believe God’s kingdom would come, and God’s will would be done…
On earth, as it is in heaven.
Photo: sunset over Deltaville