Iver’s main idea was the orderliness of the prayer – and how the order is a help to Christians not in the specific layout of their prayers, but in the priorities that move them in prayer.
I was incidentally struck by the orderliness of the prayer in terms of the work of the Gospel.
- The God we pray to has made himself known to us as our Father, but also as the one enthroned in Heaven. We need to see God in this way, because if we don’t, we cannot clearly continue in this prayer.
- Our first priority in prayer is to pray for the widespread reception of and respect for his reputation (I take “name” to equate to “reputation”, and “hallowed” to mean “reverently or worshipfully set apart”).
- When we think about Paul’s understanding of what happens in conversion (2 Cor. 4) it is in relation to how people see the glory of God revealed in Christ. In the Lord’s Prayer Jesus moves from the Father’s reputation (what we see) to the “coming of the Kingdom” – a reference to, among other things, the bringing in of new worshippers through conversion.
- It is only after this that the chain of priorities moves on to the Father’s will being done.
With all the pressing moral issues of the day – be it same-sex marriage, or Sunday opening at the Stornoway Golf Course – it’s helpful to remember that the Kingdom isn’t built up be men and women becoming more outwardly righteous. In fact, outward righteousness is very seriously offensive to God.
The outward “will of the Father” righteousness that we want to see expressed in the land can only really come about if people are brought to see the marvel of the reputation God jealously wants for himself. If people are brought to respond to Grace with Faith in Christ.
That doesn’t mean the outward righteousness “will of the Father” stuff doesn’t matter. But it does mean that there is a huge danger the Church will not see the desired return to righteousness if it over-prioritizes the outward doing the Father’s will ahead of the publishing of God’s reputation. The order matters – and time and time again the Church has lost sight of this, even to the point of possibly no longer being the Church.
A real danger? Yes, because Christians can, and do, find greater temporal satisfaction in the cut and thrust of winning political victories, than in the dying to self that is involved in winning souls.