A Prayer of Celebration
Posted by Ash Carter, 30 Mar 2018
Ash Carter concludes this year's Lent series: Believing, Living, Praying, with a look at the final line of the Lord's Prayer. You can catch up with the whole series on the Apostles' Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord's Prayer here.
If you've used these posts, we'd love to hear your feedback on Facebook, Twitter, or via email.
“For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and forever, Amen” (Matthew 6:13, some manuscripts).
This final line doesn’t appear in Luke’s shorter account of the prayer, nor in the early manuscripts of Matthew’s account. Whether these are a direct quotation from Jesus is hard to substantiate, but we retain them in the Anglican liturgy because they express glorious truths that we would do well to take to heart
All is the Father’s
We turn at this point from asking God to do something for his own name, or for our personal preservation, and instead recognise things that are. We are not so much asking God to do something in the future, as pointing out what he has already done through Christ. It is the part of the prayer in which we are most inclined to simply say, “Wow!”
The prayer turns back from us to God: these things “are yours”. As we shall see below, we are wrapped up in this prayer; we belong to the Father. But the prayer ends where it began, focused squarely on God and his possession of us, rather than where many of our prayers start and end, with ourselves.
Let’s just notice the scope of the prayer as well, before we look at the content of it. We have said that the kingdom, the power and the glory are God’s now. This is the state of play. But it is also a state that will run, uninterrupted, for the rest of eternity. This final part of the prayer acknowledges no alternatives, and brooks no rivals. All that is God’s now will never be taken from him. As Jesus tells us, the Father has given the church into Christ’s hands, and nobody is strong enough to take them from him (John 10:28).
The definite article is important here: it is the kingdom. There is only one kingdom that matters. It is the one established when the Father installed his King in Zion (Psalm 2:7). Where the eternal king is, there is the eternal kingdom of God, which Jesus will bring to its full consummation and then hand back to the Father. In that sense, the kingdom is the work of Jesus.
As we remember that Christ died for the church, and that only those bought with the blood fo Christ may ever enter into the kingdom, we remember that the kingdom is not an abstract thing. It is a precious and dearly loved people. It is Christ’s kingdom.
It is us.
When we pray “the kingdom … is yours”, we are, above all things, saying ‘We are yours.’ Even as the prayer ends focused on God, we are committing ourselves to him, and to the rule of his king.
In other words, this is not simply an observation of a wonderful fact, but a celebration that God holds us in his hands, as his precious and dearly loved Children and that, more than anything, he is the centre not only of our prayers but our lives as well.
It is tempting to look at the pain and suffering in the world and become almost dualistic, that is, to think that God is a power, but that the devil is an equal power, each winning some battles, losing others. If we think like that, we would live in constant fear that, for all his promises, and his supposed sovereignty, there is no certainty of anything in the future, because God is not really in control at all.
But again, we here recognise only one power, the power, and it is all God’s. Whether kings, parliaments, military commanders, your boss, your pastor, you mum and dad - every power in the universe only exists because God made it, and upholds it by the power of his will. All powers in the universe are entirely derived from what God chooses to permit. The devil is on a leash, only able to do what God allows him to do in the fulfilment of God’s greater plan.
Both we and anyone who opposes us are under the sovereign hand of God. Should we be afraid of an increasingly secular culture? There is only one kingdom that matters, and there is only one power that matters. Our opponents may hate Christ and his gospel, but they will fulfil the hidden will of God by opposing him. It is often in the face of opposition that the church has most flourished. In the words of Tertullian, ‘The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.’
Indeed, the power of God is deliberately focused on building the church (Ephesians 1:19) even as the devil seeks to tear us apart (Ephesians 6:10-13). Christ will build his church. He has disarmed the powers that stood against us, triumphing over them at the cross.
All of which means, that praying “the power … is yours” is a wonderful statement of our security. It is a wonderful statement that the plan of God, and the consummation of the New Creation are utterly secure. These words are a celebration.
God is seen to be glorious when he is seen as he truly is. God is glorious. Yet to so many in our world, he is a figure of fun, a useful swear word, and nothing more.
To the church, however, we confess his glory. We may see as through a glass darkly; we do not have the privilege of seeing the transfiguration with our earthly eyes. Yet we get to gaze on the glory of God in the face of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6). As we see all of Christ in all the Scriptures, as we dwell on him beauty in all its facets, so we see his glory. And so we see the character of the Father manifest in the person and work of Jesus. And so we see the glory of God, the glory that he has now, and will be fully revealed at the coming of Christ.
How do we respond to this? Surely as John the Baptist did, by saying ‘He must increase and I must decrease’ (John 3:30).
Insofar as we manage to grasp the reality that the only kingdom, all the power and the infinite glory are the Father’s, to that extent we will find contentment in being in the kingdom, under his plan and power and heading for the certainty of his eternal home.
And so we say, “Amen.”
Questions for reflection:
1. What does it mean for Christ to be your King?
2. As you face the day before you, what difference does it make to do it in God’s strength?
3. How could others see God’s glory reflected in your life?
Our Father in Heaven,
It is my privilege to be part of your kingdom, under the loving rule of King Jesus. Please help me to live in obedience to my king today. It is also my great joy to live under the mighty protective hand of you, my loving Father. Help me to trust that all the power is yours, and will be forever, and nobody can take me from your hand. Finally, please help me to see your glory, and reflect it in my life, so that you are glorified in me and in your church, now and forever.
Ash Carter is the Assistant Minister at Christ Church, Earlsfield, and the Honorary Treasurer of Church Society.
Add your comment
Let us know what you think on our Facebook page