Whenever we pray, we might pray for others, for the world, for rescue, for help, for justice, for direction. This is right and proper as we pray for the coming of God’s kingdom. However, whatever we might pray for, the primary object upon which our prayers have an effect is ourselves.
I would like to suggest that this is both the outcome of divine grace as well as divine wisdom. It is the outcome of divine grace because God gives us more than we ask for. We pray for God to address a situation over there but God graciously gives us more than we can ask or think and so he also addresses the situation within ourselves, for which he have not prayed.
However, it is also an act of divine providence. God recognises that we do not know how to pray as we ought. So all too often when we pray ‘thy kingdom come’ what we really mean is ‘God please fix that problem over there.’ However, God recognises that the real issue lies within us, so God addresses the issue in me in order to address the issues about which I have concerns.
So when I pray that God will help my wife to be a better spouse to me, God answers that prayer by transforming my heart to make me a better husband. When we pray for God to change the world, the first thing that God does is to change us, so that we can change the world. When we pray for help the first thing that God does is to lift the scales from our eyes to remind us that he who is for us is greater than he that is against us. When we pray for divine retribution God changes our hearts so that we can contemplate divine forgiveness. When we pray for the Church to grow God gives us a passion for those who do not yet know
Jesus and the confidence to share the Good News of the gospel. In many ways, it hardly matters what we pray for, because the primary object upon which our prayers have an effect is ourselves. So if you don't want to change, I suggest that you stay well away from prayer, because serious, consistent and diligent prayer, will mess up your life!
However, this is precisely why we pray thy kingdom come, not only because we recognise that we do not know how to pray as we ought, but also because we can see that we are so easily blinded to those areas of our lives which are most in need of divine transformation. In praying ‘thy kingdom come’ not only do we invite God to have his way in his world, more crucially we invite god to have his way in us.
Calvin T Samuel BA MBA PhD
Principal, London School of Theology