Wednesday, March 24, 2010

'Daily needs' and the Kingdom of God

Bob Spencer has been blogging about the Lord's Prayer. One thing Bob has noticed is how easy it is to focus more "on our daily bread" than "thy kingdom come":
The Bible is put to the service of therapy. Anything that is not immediately recognizable as therapeutic is simply overlooked. This way of dealing with the Word of God is promoted in most daily devotionals. People don't even recognize the possibility of an alternative.

The same is true, as I was saying, of prayer. We put it to the use as a tool of therapy, not as a conversation with the One whose mission includes far more than our need for ease. Self expands, and the soul atrophies. Psychology trumps theology, and we don't even notice.

It's as if "give us this day our daily bread" expanded to take over the whole Jesus prayer, crowding out God and his kingdom. Or, better, as if we simply cut away the rest, ripped "daily bread" from its context, and let it mean whatever we needed it to mean. Kinda like we do with the rest of the Bible.
That stings, but nevertheless, Bob's whole post is well worth reading. In a related blogpost, Bob considers the positive results of praying as Jesus intended for us to do:
First, my prayer-life is no model of Christian piety. Believe me, I am no expert. I am a stuttering, befuddled, mind-wandering kind of pray-er. I pray often, throughout the day in fact, most often the age-old gem, "Help me, Lord!" But what I have found is that praying for myself and others in the way that Jesus taught us to pray has tended to cleanse my prayer-life of self-focused pleading, and helped me to picture myself as I pray not as the client of some wise and supernaturally gifted therapist and sugar-daddy, but as a front-line representative (one of many) of God's onrushing Kingdom.
Amen. You can find more of Bob's thoughts on the Lord's Prayer here and here.


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