The Lord’s Prayer is for those who hold firmly that Jesus Christ has inaugurated a kingdom, has risen from the dead, reigns at the right hand of God, and is coming again to judge the living and the dead. The Lord’s Prayer is for revolutionaries, for men and women who want to see the kingdoms of this world give way to the kingdom of our Lord…
The first petition in the Lord’s Prayer is that God’s name be hallowed. The second petition, “your kingdom come” builds on the first by showing us how God’s name is hallowed in the world. God reveals his character and reputation as his kingdom spreads to every corner of the earth and as citizens of that kingdom do God’s will on earth as it is in heaven. But what is God’s kingdom, and what are the implications of praying in this way?
A Radical and Revolutionary Prayer
Very few prayers are so memorable that they become cemented in the public consciousness. Certainly, the Lord’s Prayer is one of the few examples of a prayer that has exercised a formative cultural impact. Some other prayers, considerably more trite than the Lord’s Prayer, have also become artifacts of the culture. For instance, the so-called “Serenity Prayer” is one of the most well-known prayers in our culture: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” A great deal of controversy surrounds who first wrote the Serenity Prayer, though the most likely candidate seems to be theologian Reinhold Niebuhr.
The Serenity Prayer has enjoyed some time in the spotlight since it was first penned. It has been adopted, for instance, by groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and other humanitarian or self-help organizations. It has been placarded and painted on decorative pieces throughout the country. Calvin and Hobbes even spoofed the prayer, perhaps writing a superior version in the process. In one famous comic strip Calvin humorously prays, “Lord grant me the strength to change what I can, the inability to accept what I can’t, and the incapacity to know the difference.”
In many ways, the Serenity Prayer is the model prayer for a post-Christian society. It says nothing about the character of God, the plight of man, the need for redemption, or the nature of the Gospel. The Serenity Prayer is nothing more than a generic prayer for a people with generic religious convictions.