I posted this on http://christianthought.hbu.edu, the blog of our department at Houston Baptist University (HBU), but thought that it merited reposting here:
I pray the Lord’s Prayer frequently, for, after all, Jesus said it was the way to pray. So I pray it in church on Sunday, daily in Morning and Evening Prayer, and at other times as well. I focus on it, rejoice in it, and reflect upon it (I also sometimes expand it). It is easy to see that it is quite different than the usual extemporaneous prayers that I hear, for at least the first half is not about me or even about us, but is a collective all to “our Father” to establish his rule, his Kingdom. This, of course, builds on Jesus’ announcement of God’s rule as his basic good-news message (Mark 1:14 and parallels). I also use as a “prayer word” the single Aramaic term, Maranatha, a call to Jesus, “our Lord,” to “come.” He is God’s Anointed One (which is what we say when we use the transliterated term “Christ”) and he is to return a rule this world. The word is a prayer for him to do just that It is a term that in one form or another Paul uses and Revelation uses. It was the prayer of the early followers of Jesus.
Yet it struck me the other day as I was walking around the ponds at HBU and praying as I walked, that I was in effect praying for the dissolution of the United States of America (and other countries as well, of course, but I live in a particular location in the USA). I was, in 1 Peter’s terms, an undocumented immigrant, a foreigner, and unregistered alien, since I am re-born into a different nation that that of my natural birth (the USA), I am reborn into the people of God, the priestly kingdom, that inherits the promises of Exod 19:6. And I am a foreigner who is a subversive, for I am actively praying for the dissolution of the USA. I am asking for a king to come and to openly set up his monarchy. I am asking for God’s rule to be established, not the sovereignty and empire of the USA. I am in fact praying Thy Will Be Done: Praying the Our Father as a Subversive Activity. An I am doing that in an election year, when Jesus is not standing for election (although all presidential and vice presidential candidates say that they are his followers) – nor would he, since he is a God-appointed (or God-annointed) king. And I am doing that, not in a crowd somewhere chanting slogans for charging police barricades, but walking around some ponds, all by myself praying, or standing in church and proclaiming Jesus as king, or leading liturgy in which the Lord’s Pray is embedded, or sitting in my study at home and praying Morning Prayer.
Apparently Jesus thinks that there is more power in such prayer and such proclamation than in the combined powers of the all of the world’s armies, for, he says, it will succeed. And some day someone will be praying that prayer or chanting maranatha and he will indeed come.