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We finish our prayer as we began it – with praise to God. If you’ve ever been to a Catholic Church service, you can tell quite easily who all the Protestants are. You can tell this because when it comes time in the service to pray the Lord’s Prayer, everyone says ‘deliver us from evil’, and then the whole congregation stops praying except for the Protestants. If you look up the prayer in Matthew or Luke, you’ll find that our end phrase, Yours is the kingdom the power and the glory, isn’t actually a part of the prayer that Jesus taught. So where does this ending come from? Looking back to the first or second century Didache, one of the earliest pieces of Christian teaching, the Lord’s Prayer ended with Thine is the power and the glory forever and later tradition added “the kingdom” to give us the doxology we have today. Jewish prayers would always end with a doxology. A doxology is simply praise to God for who he is. We all know the Doxology – Praise God from whom all blessings flow, praise him all creatures here below. Praise him above ye heavenly hosts. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
The last part of the Lord’s Prayer is a doxology which breaks forth from us when we are overwhelmed by the goodness of God, who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think. Let’s take a look at these 9 nine words that carry us through to the end of the prayer.
When we proclaim “Yours is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory” we proclaim a heavenly perspective. We see the world and people through heaven’s eyes. It is our natural and fitting response to the previous lines of the prayer in which we proclaim all that God has done. For God, who is our Father, is holy. His Kingdom HAS come and his will IS being done here on Earth. He HAS given us our daily bread as well as the bread of life – Jesus Christ. And with the death and resurrection of Christ, he HAS delivered us from sin and evil. The lines that Jesus taught us to pray aren’t so much requests to God as they are a chorus of saints saying “This is what God has done and this is what God is doing”. We then add our response to the prayer by exclaiming that the kingdom, the power and the glory all belong to God.
When we look back to the Old Testament, we find a similar doxology in a prayer of King David. David prays this prayer at a pivotal point in Israel’s history. David receives the plans from God for building the temple. He gives these plans to his son Solomon, whom God has chosen to carry out this construction project, and he gathers the assembly and tells them that he is going to give generously for this temple. He then asks the question – Who will consecrate themselves to the Lord today? The leaders of all the tribes choose to give generously and the people rejoice for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord.
David recognizes that yes, this is a good thing that all the people have chosen to give generously, but he knows that the only reason they can give generously is because of God. For it is God who brought them out of Egypt and delivered them from their oppressors. It is God who gave them a home where they could establish themselves. And it is God who answered their prayers for a king and who gave them victory over their enemies so they could live in peace. David’s prayer is full of gratitude and acknowledgement for who God is and what he has done.
David’s prayer connects the end of his reign, to the beginning of the reign of his son, Solomon. The prayer is a bridge from what has been to what will be – the establishment of God’s true temple. The Lord’s Prayer has the same role in our lives. It is a bridge for us; the prayer Christ left with us that we will pray until he returns again to establish his kingdom here on Earth. Just as the leaders during David’s time were invited to participate in the building of this kingdom, so too are we invited to participate in the establishment of God’s kingdom. And one of the foundational ways we do that is through prayer.
A few weeks ago we looked at what that kingdom looks like – God’s name is revered as holy, people are repenting of their sins and turning toward God. It’s a place where Christ is recognized as the one and only source of hope. And in our prayer for God’s kingdom to come, for the power and glory to be God’s and God’s alone, we pray these things over ourselves and make it personal.
I’ve been watching the Crown lately on Netflix which chronicles Queen Elizabeth’s ascension to the throne and the years thereafter. As she goes about her royal duties and learns what it means to be Queen, she is faced with an inner struggle; where once she was free to make her own choices, she must now consider the good of the monarchy before she makes any decision. She comes to realize that every decision she makes and every action she takes must be for the good and the continuance of the crown. Happiness, family, and even self are secondary.
This demonstrates what our attitude should be toward the Kingdom of God. Every time we’re faced with a decision we should ask, is this for the good of God’s kingdom? Is this for my glory or God’s glory? Not only do we want to see God’s Kingdom realized around us, but we want to see it in ourselves. In fact, we need to start with ourselves before we look outward. Before we ask for God to change the world around, we should ask him to change that which is within us. That’s why we finish the Lord’s Prayer with praise. It is our proper, fitting and only response to God.
This posture of praise can be difficult at times. For one thing, we are accustomed to praise as a reaction to something being done. In our schools, work places, even homes, we often praise each other for our accomplishments. We’ll say Good work, you got an A, or Congrats on that promotion, all your hard work paid off. We use praise as a reaction to the accomplishments of others. Theologian Helmut Thielicke points out that with God we must praise him in order to see what he accomplishes. We praise him at the very moments in life when there seems to be no way out and only then will we learn to see the way out, simply because God is there at the end of every way. I have a mug at home that I love. The writing on it says “Your situation shouldn’t change your praise, but your praise can certainly change your situation.” We don’t reserve praise for the times things are going well. Praise should always be our posture toward God. I believe this is most important during the times that it feels difficult to praise God. Praise him when you feel ignored by others, praise him when you can’t seem to get along with your family members, praise him when you are overwhelmed with work and praise him when you’re grieving.
We see this attitude very tangibly in the life of King David. No matter what was going on his life, he had a posture of praise toward God. In good times, in bad times and in times of uncertainty, David is praising God. When we praise God, we enter into his presence. We look into his face. We see him for who he really is – loving, holy, powerful and full of glory. God, in his grace, invites us into that love and glory. Praising him in hard times reminds us that though our circumstances may change at any moment, God remains the same. Praise also reminds us who we are – the beloved children of God. As we seek God’s face and praise him for who he is and what he has done, our souls rouse within us. We remember that the kingdom, the power and the glory belong to God. And that he who began a good work in us is faithful and just to complete it. Our response to that statement should be a resounding Amen.
This brings us to the end of the Lord’s Prayer – the Amen.
For many of us, including my dog, the word ‘Amen’ means it’s time to eat. The Greek word ‘Amen’ means ‘truly’ or ‘verily’ if you’re reading the King James Version. We use ‘Amen’ to end our prayers but Jesus would often use it as a precursor to his teachings. The word occurs fifty times in the gospels. When Jesus uses it, he is saying “this is true” or “I know this to be true”. ‘Amen’ isn’t simply an afterthought or a way to end prayers. This four-letter word is not an end at all but it signals the beginning of our participation in God’s purposes. When Jesus said ‘Amen’ he was saying that God’s promised deliverance was moving from the future into the present.
In 2 Corinthians 1:20 we read for no matter how many promises God has made, they are Yes in Christ. And so, through him, the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. Christ is our Amen. As John the Revelator wrote, He is the faithful and true witness, the origin of God's creation (Rev 3:14). It is only through Christ that we are able to pray the Lord’s Prayer as it is through him that the promises of God are fulfilled. Through Christ, God’s name is hallowed, through Christ, God’s kingdom has come, through Christ God’s will is being done on earth as in heaven, through Christ we have sustenance for the day, through Christ we are delivered from evil and need not be tested. And only through Christ we are able to say Amen! When we say Amen, we are saying Yes to God. We are putting our trust in God. We look at our own brokenness and the brokenness of the world around us and our weakness, and we praise God and we trust him. In Jesus' prayer, we see the divine initiative. In praying it, we see our human response. In praying and saying the Amen, we give our 'Yes' to God's Yes.
This is the most important question you will ever answer. Will you say ‘yes’ to God? Because you can say no. Our Father, who sent his own Son to die for you so that you could have a relationship with him, leaves you a choice. God is not coercive, he’s a gentleman. And he is so humble that he allows us to reject him. You can walk away from God or you can move toward him; toward his love, his forgiveness, his compassion, his mercy. Saying yes, involves a struggle because as we talked about last week, until we see the kingdom of God fully established, the kingdom of evil is at work in this world. The enemy walks about like a lion, seeking to steal, kill and destroy. And the enemy will tell you, that if you say yes to God, you will lose your freedom or you can’t say Yes to God because you’ll never measure up to his standards. Or he’ll tempt you with empty promises just the way he tempted Christ and say forget about God, you need to work for your own power and your own glory. This temptation is everywhere and this message of self-deification is everywhere. But that’s not how we were made. You and I were made for God’s glory as a display of God’s love and grace. When we give him our ‘Yes’ he gives us to the world. When we say no to God we become part of the problem in the world but when we say yes, we become part of the solution. Our ‘Amen’ is a commitment to God’s will and divine purposes. Our ‘Amen’ speaks out against injustice and oppression and poverty. Our ‘Amen’ affirms that yes, God is faithful.
One author tells us that when looking at the world, there are three attitudes we can adopt – revolt, resignation or hope against hope. To revolt is to see the world in all its ugliness and squalor and dismiss God entirely. To resign is to see the world as it is and say, there’s nothing that can be done about all this, and become apathetic toward and even accustomed to all the evil we see. The third attitude, to hope against hope, is what we claim when we pray the Lord’s Prayer. To hope against hope is to believe that one day, everything on earth will be as it is in heaven. Heaven will meet earth. God, throughout history has continuously brought heaven down to earth.
Heaven came down in the beginning, when God created, and breathed his Spirit into humanity.
Heaven came down to earth in the person of Jesus when the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld the glory of God.
One day, God will reconcile all things to himself and until that time we will pray and continue to declare “Yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. And all God’s people said….. Amen.