This sermon was originally preached in the summer of 2020, when riots and protests were happening across the US. So bear that in mind when it comes to the references to political leaders and events.
Our Father in heaven,Matthew 6:9-13
your name be honored as holy.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
Then David blessed the Lord in the sight of all the assembly. David said, “May you be blessed, Lord God of our father Israel, from eternity to eternity. Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the splendor and the majesty, for everything in the heavens and on earth belongs to you. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom, and you are exalted as head over all. Riches and honor come from you, and you are the ruler of everything. Power and might are in your hand, and it is in your hand to make great and to give strength to all. Now therefore, our God, we give you thanks and praise your glorious name.”1 Chronicles 29:10-13
Now we come to the end of our series on The Lord’s Prayer. And it’s fitting that we’re ending the series with what is called the doxology: For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. In many translations of the Bible, these words don’t make it into the main text. In some they do. That’s the judgment of the translators. Most Bibles place these words in a footnote, indicating that they are not located in the earliest NT manuscripts. But these words are familiar to us, since this is how most of us have memorized The Lord’s Prayer. Many connect this doxology with David’s prayer we read in 1 Chronicles 29, seeing it almost as a summary of David’s prayer. So I’m including them. And it’s fitting because these words—For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen—bring The Lord’s Prayer full circle and bring our attention back to God himself, to the beginning of the prayer: your name be honored as holy. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. I’m also including these words in our series on The Lord’s Prayer because I think we need these words right now. I think I need these words right now. I think our world, our neighbours to the south, and, indeed, our own country needs these words right now. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. We need these words because they’re so evidently not true of our world right now. We don’t see God’s kingdom around us, his will being done, or his name being honored as holy—certainly not to the extent that we should or that they need to be. Because our world lacks peace. Our world lacks justice. Our world lacks kindness. Our world lacks civility. Our world lacks grace. Our world lacks love. In short, our world lacks the presence and power of God. And this doxology points us back to our need for God and the conviction that he—and only he—can bring these things to pass. So let’s talk about that this morning.
The Lord’s Prayer, as we all know, consists of petitions, of prayer requests we make to our God and Father, because we are entirely dependent upon him for every inch of our life and every ounce of our breath. But when we come to the doxology, we’re no longer asking God for anything. Listen to it again: For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. No, we’re not asking; we’re declaring, we’re clinging to the truth, we’re leaning on the promise, and we’re boldly acknowledging that only God himself can in fact provide what we’ve praying for throughout The Lord’s Prayer.
It’s like we’re saying to God: “Lord, we pray for you to bring your kingdom, that your will would be done, and that you would be recognized and acknowledged for who you are in all your majesty and glory, because we know only you can do this. Only you have the power to accomplish all these things. Please help us not just to pray this truth but to live this truth. Please let this truth work its way into all we say and do.” The doxology, really, is an end to petitions, an end to prayer requests. Or an acknowledgement that an end to petitions will one day arrive. Wesley Hill puts it this way: “Petitions will not be necessary in God’s future. We will cease asking God to supply our needs, since we will be entirely satisfied. All that will remain is to praise God—to enjoy His benevolent reign, to rejoice in what His power has achieved, and to see His glory.”
But this isn’t true yet. I had to remind myself of that this week while watching news coverage of what’s been happening in the US. Because I found myself feeling angry, frustrated, and sad at how quickly the situation deteriorated. How quickly things descended into chaos. How quickly so many fell victim to their worst instincts.When will there be an end to violence? When will there be no more injustice? When will there be peace among people with differences? Notice the doxology says yours is the kingdom. Not Trudeau’s kingdom. Not Trump’s kingdom. Not anyone else’s kingdom but God’s.
Listen to Psalm 2: Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? Isn’t that what we see? Our leaders so often either pay lip service to God or ignore him altogether. And while I know that the cultural moment we’re in is complicated—including when it comes to the place of religion—like it or not we reap what we sow. The chaos and conflict of our world exists because we ignore and mock the truth of this doxology. So we pray The Lord’s Prayer—including the doxology—because we need God’s kingdom to come and God’s will to be done. We’re calling upon God to act.
In other words, on this side of eternity we will never see or experience or be able to bring about perfect peace and justice. For instance, I think we all know that even when the tumultuous situation south of the border ends, and even if the right person is elected to office in November, we still will not have perfect peace. God’s will still will not be done. We’ll still be waiting for his kingdom to come. The end of all petitions—when the kingdom and the power and the glory are truly and fully God’s—can only come when God himself chooses to act to bring it about. And we participate in this when we begin praying like Jesus teaches us in The Lord’s Prayer: Your name be honored as holy. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. We pray for now what God will eventually—and inevitably—bring to pass in the future.
One of the most striking images from this last week is that of people kneeling before protestors apologizing for their white privilege. Including our own Prime Minister. Make what you want of that. I certainly have my own thoughts. But I would much rather see people kneeling in the streets with one another praying to the God of heaven. I would much rather people come together with a willingness to admit that we’ve all sinned and that we are all in need of forgiveness and healing. We all fall short of the glory of God. Without getting into all of the politics, it’s ironic that thousands of people can gather to express their anger over injustice but it’s still impossible to gather in the dozens or in the hundreds to pray together.
But here’s the thing: not only does the doxology point us to God’s future kingdom, where there will be perfect peace and justice, but it also reminds us that only God can bring it about. Yours . . . is the power, we say in the doxology. Prayer is the acknowledgment of our powerlessness. Prayer is humbling. Or ought to be. Prayer is the act of turning from ourselves to the living, almighty God. Before him our hearts are open, whether we like it or not. If nothing else, all we see around us should remind us that we cannot fix our problems with our own power. We cannot educate ourselves out of sin. We cannot buy or spend our way out of sin. We cannot protest our way out of sin.
But we want to believe we can. Isn’t that what people hope? Isn’t that what we want? Because then we don’t have to deal with the real problem: us. Ourselves. The person we see in the mirror. Only God has the power to change what needs to be changed. Some of that change can happen now if we but humble ourselves before him. As David prayed: Power and might are in your hand.
And this means putting our trust not in politicians, no matter how well-intentioned or noble or effective they are; and it means not putting our trust in our political systems, no matter how strongly we hold our political opinions. It means our ultimate trust is in God, the maker of heaven and earth.
But here’s the thing: for our trust to be in God, our ultimate desire has to be for God. We’re not going to pray for his kingdom to come, for his will to be done, for his name to be made holy, if our desire isn’t transformed to want, above all else, to be in the presence of a heavenly Father, the Abba that we call upon at the start of The Lord’s Prayer, who loves us immensely beyond anything we can imagine. John Piper, in his book Desiring God, puts it this way: “God is most glorified when you are most satisfied in Him.” To pray The Lord’s Prayer, to proclaim in confidence the words of this doxology, means for our desire for God to grow and our joy in him to increase, until he, more and more, becomes our all in all. It makes me think of the words of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Question 1 asks, “What is the chief end of man?” And the answer? “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”Because as we say in the doxology yours is . . . the glory forever. Amen. Glory refers to God’s worth, God’s beauty, his splendour.
Do we see God as worthy of our life? Of our devotion? Of our commitment? Of our obedience? Does the beauty of his salvation, of his character, impress itself upon our hearts?
A.W. Tozer, in his book Attributes of God: A Journey into the Father’s Heart, writes: “As soon as I set my hopes and comfort upon things and people I’ll lose something out of my heart. It dare not be things and God, it dare not be people and God: it must be God and nothing else. Then whatever God gives us, we can hold at arm’s length and hold it dear for Jesus’ sake. And we love it for His sake, but it is not necessary to our happiness. If there’s anything necessary to your eternal happiness but God, you’re not yet the kind of Christian that you ought to be. For only God is the true rest.” And the truth is: none of us is there yet. But this is the question: is that the trajectory of our heart’s desire?
From David’s prayer, we hear: Our God, we give you thanks and praise your glorious name. Do our hearts sing “amen” in response to these words? To pray “amen” is to say “let it be so.” It’s signalling our agreement with the words of the prayer. It’s an expression of confidence in the God to whom we pray. But it isn’t completely so yet. There is still conflict. Division remains. Peace escapes us. And it will continue to be so. So in the meantime, we pray: Your name be honored as holy. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. We pray: For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
In Psalm 2, the Lord says that I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain. This, like the entire Lord’s Prayer, points us to Jesus. Because the answer to this prayer is the coming again of Jesus. God the Father answers this prayer by once again sending his Son in the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus brings the kingdom, enacts God’s will, makes God’s name holy in all the heavens and earth. Jesus is God’s ultimate amen.
So what does this mean for us now? Praying the Lord’s Prayer means being people who acknowledge our need for God and who find in the Father our deepest satisfaction. Praying the Lord’s Prayer means being people who seek to live this prayer by our words, attitudes, and actions wherever we find ourselves and whoever we’re with. Praying the Lord’s Prayer means being people of hope who know that this prayer’s answer ultimately will arrive only in the coming of God himself, in the person of Jesus, when, indeed, his will be the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.