This is the ninth and final post in a series of Tim Keller's thoughts on the Prayer of Prayers.
I've always loved this traditional ending to the prayer that Jesus taught us as his followers, as it reminds me of whose I am, to whom I am praying, the kingdom I'm serving, and the limitless power of the Ruler of that kingdom. It is truly ending the conversation with our Father on the upbeat.
Augustine does not mention it because it was not in most earlier manuscripts of the Bible or in the Latin Vulgate. Luther does not treat it. However, Calvin, while noting that "this is not extant in the Latin versions," believes that "it is so appropriate to this place that it ought not to be omitted."
After descending into our needs, troubles, and limitations, we return to the truth of God's complete sufficiency. Here our hearts can end with "tranquil repose" in the remembrance that nothing can ever snatch away the kingdom, power, and glory from our heavenly, loving Father.
Friends, let us pray,
And, let us remember that the Prayer of Prayers was
given to us in plural form. We ask God to give us what we need, meaning that, as much as possible, "the prayers of Christians ought to be public...to the advancement of the believer's fellowship."...Calvin believed "public ministry shapes private devotion, not vice versa." Calvin took great care to define public prayers and the liturgy because he wanted private prayers to be strongly shaped by the corporate worship of the Christian church.
Prayer is therefore not a strictly private thing. As much as we can, we should pray with others both formally in gathered worship and informally. Why? If the substance of prayer is to continue a conversation with God, and if the purpose of it is to know God better, then this can happen best in community.
C.S. Lewis argues that it takes a community of people to get to know an individual person. Reflecting on his own friendships, he observed that some aspects of one of his friend's personality were brought out only through interaction with a second friend. That meant if he lost the second friend, he lost the part of his first friend that was otherwise invisible. "By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets." If it takes a community to know an ordinary human being, how much more necessary would it be to get to know Jesus alongside others? By praying with friends, you will be able to hear and see facets of Jesus that you have not yet perceived.
That is why, Lewis thinks, that the angels in Isaiah 6 are crying, "Holy, Holy, Holy" to one another.
Each angel is communicating to all the rest the part of the glory it sees. Knowing the Lord is communal and cumulative, we must pray and praise together. That way "the more we share the Heavenly Bread between us, the more we shall have."
(Tim Keller, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God, p. 117-119, emphasis and paragraphing mine)
You may click on each line below for the other eight parts in this series.
Thy Will be Done, on earth as it is in heaven,
but Deliver Us from Evil,
For Thine Is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory - Forever!