The Christian life is intended to be constant pursuit of that great goal. "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31). If the glory of God is to be the ultimate end of our our lives, as it surely is the ultimate end of history, then it is fitting that it should be the starting point of our prayer. "Hallowed be your name".
As we saw in our previous blog, the good news is that the task of restoring God's honor, of setting him apart to be seen as the all-glorious one that he is, is God's work not ours. It is a petition, not an action. In fact, in the Lord's Prayer it is the petition that fuels and defines all the others.
And so, when we pray that God's kingdom would come, we are praying ultimately for the hallowing of his name. When we ask that his will would be done on earth, the reason why it is important that his will is done down here, is that it is the way in which he will be glorified on earth as he is constantly in heaven where his will is always done and he is always seen to be glorious in the unfolding of his purposes.
But the same focus informs the petitions in the Lord's prayer that we often take to be about us more than about him.
- Why do we need to have daily bread? So that we have the health and energy to live to the praise of his glory.
- Why do we need to be forgiven as we engage in the process of forgiving others? So that God's reputation and honor that has been tarnished by our broken relationships might be restored.
- Why do we need to be protected from temptation and set free from the power of the enemy? Because God's glory is compromised by the sin in those who call him "Our Father" but who fail to bear the family likeness.
These are not self-centered prayer requests when they take their proper place in the context in which Jesus sets them. Ultimately none of them are about us; they are all about him.The kingdom in which these things are a way of life is his kingdom. The power by which they come about is his and his alone. And the glory to which they lead is his glory. And forever and ever it will be his hallowed name that is exalted in the new creation.
Yes! Paul tells us to do whatever we do to the glory of God. There's lots to be done. But the Gospel is primarily about a passion rather than an action plan. Jesus gives us a petition to ask rather than a job to do. Reach for your knee pads rather than your hard hats.The burden of accomplishing an earth that is filled with the knowledge of the glory of God is his burden, not ours, and is, therefore, for us a light burden. In our zealous world-changing activism the voice of Jesus says "Lighten up". Put the burden where it belongs - on the broad shoulders of the one who can carry the weight of the ever-increasing government of his ever-coming kingdom.
The irony of it is that those for whom the glory of God is a passion and a prayer will be those who make its pursuit their practice. But if you start with trying to perform, the weight of trying to hallow God's name is overwhelming.