The Lord’s prayer starts with,
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
What does this mean to ask God to do His will on earth as it is in heaven, bringing Heaven to earth? We pray this all the time, but often I struggle with wondering how, the actuality of heaven coming to earth. It’s a lovely poetic picture, but what does it really look like?
In relation to prayer, C.S. Lewis says that though “We are always completely, and therefore equally, known to God” that when we “become aware” of this being “known” and “assent with all our will to be so known, then we treat ourselves, in relation to God, not as things but as persons.” God doesn’t change, but “the change is in us. The passive changes to the active. Instead of merely being known, we show, we tell, we offer ourselves to view” (from Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer).
I can’t help but think about this not only in relation to prayer, but in our whole relationship to God. In any of the topics we hear in sermons on a regular basis–faith, love, worship. The book of James tells me that my faith is nothing until it moves from the passive to the active. Paul tells me that my love is noisy and annoying without action. But in the place of relating to God, I am offering myself to view, moving from speech to action.
C.S. Lewis goes on to say “To put ourselves on a personal footing with God could, in itself and without warrant, be nothing but presumption and illusion. But we are taught that it is not; that is it God who gives us that footing. For it is by the Holy Spirit that we cry ‘Father.’ By unveiling, by confessing our sins and ‘making known’ our requests, we assume the high rank of persons before Him. And He, descending, becomes a Person to us.”
Asking God to bring “Heaven to Earth” is not about some kind of religious exercise or a poetic prayer, it’s about a relationship with Him, where we can see ourselves in relation to Him, relating to Him in the way that He desires. And then from that place we can relate to others and the world around us in faith and love that comes out of being “known” by God and so becomes active, not passive. This is how to keep the greatest commandment.
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37-38