My church recently began a series on The Lord’s Prayer, the prayer that Jesus used to teach us how to pray. Maybe, like me, you’ve said this so many times that you very likely could utter it in your sleep. Maybe you’ve heard it enough that the words are more so routine. Maybe it’s new to you. It is, at the heart of it, a prayer based on the Lord’s power. It begins with this:
“Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”
Matthew 6:9-10, KJV
The first week of the series, my pastor preached on just the first sentence. There’s much more to it, but there is so much in that one line. I always perceived it just as a greeting, a recognition of his holiness. Essentially, that is exactly what it is. But in greeting him, in recognizing his holiness? Therein lies the depth.
Our pastor mentioned that in speaking these words, in addressing him as our Father, we are claiming him as our family, claiming to be his children. We are making the proclamation that he is Perfect, that he is to be worshiped, that he is the very definition of holy. In declaring him holy and calling him Father, we begin to recognize his power.
And then we ask him to let that power loose.
Thy will be done. Do we recognize what we ask here? Do we grasp the effect that this can have?
Frederick Buechner states it much more eloquently than I can:
“To speak these words is to invite the tiger out of the cage, to unleash a power that makes atomic power look like a warm breeze.”
A tiger in a cage is locked. Unable to roam as he pleases, unable to explore the territory he would claim. Unable to prowl.
A tiger in captivity is not as he naturally should be. Not able to become what he could be. Limited.
A tiger let free. With a need to declare his might, a need to possess this land, a need to make known his presence at his own pace.
How frequently do you ask our Lord to do what he needs to do? To take our situation? That is common in prayer. When we don’t know what to do, when we don’t necessarily want to handle what we might need to handle, we ask for him to take it. For what he intends to be set forth.
And in doing so, we are opening the door to that cage every time. We are coaxing the tiger out, asking it to roam free. We do not know what that tiger is capable of. How can we know? But we invite it out nonetheless.
Every single time we ask God for his will in our situation, we seek his power. We let his power be known. That’s terrifying, and if it doesn’t scare you, you are made of stronger steel than I. You’re giving him unlimited power. He could take it anyway, of course, but you’re giving it to him.
He wants his will to be done. But he craves for us to ask for it. He wants it to be something we want as well, something that we trust in.
Tigers are territorial, ferocious. Our God is territorial. He wants to be set free, and then he wants nothing to stand in his way. He wants your heart as his.