The Lord’s Prayer is more – “Praying in the Reign”

Then something special happened.

Somehow this collection of words morphed from being the Lord’s Prayer to becoming a model of prayer for me. They went from being an object for rote recitation to something alive. It became a model for teaching me not only how to pray, but also how to live. They became words not for the inside of a building but words for all parts of life. There were words about forgiveness, temptation, and dependence on God—the things I wrestle with daily.”
– Bruce Green, Praying in the Reign

My copy of the book opens with this:

note_praying-in-the-reign

Bruce was one of my youth ministers (if we used that term back then) when I was a teenager, even though looking back, he wasn’t much older than I was. But he was one of my favorites. He and another of my favorites, Barry, held many a devotional on weeknights in the back of Barry’s feed-and-seed store in downtown Madison (back when it was a quiet little town). We’d sit around on feed bags and listen and talk about Scripture and Christianity.

But now that we’re grown up, we rarely see each other. So I was delighted to sit at his feet again in his book Praying in the Reign about the Lord’s Prayer.

Praying-in-the-Reign-Bruce-Green

He breaks it into seven sections, then subdivides these even further, with theological explanations but also with demonstrations of how the Lord breathes and moves behind the words.

It is not a formula of words to be mindlessly repeated, but a spiritual pattern to guide and shape us. It is not an end in itself, but a means of leading us into a deeper righteousness.”

Because I recite this prayer aloud at the end of every session of my Centering Prayer time, I appreciated hearing a fresh perspective on the individual phrases. For example . . .

“It’s worth noting that ‘Father’ is the way in which God is most often spoken of in the New Testament. The one and only God is our Father. That is how He wishes to be known because that’s what He is.”

And . . .

When mercy and kindness are shown—the kingdom comes. When someone chooses forgiveness over bitterness—the kingdom comes. When the oppressed are uplifted—the kingdom comes. Whenever God’s will is enacted on earth—the kingdom comes.”

And this . . .

“For example, take the little word ‘for,’ which connects the doxology with the last part of the prayer about being delivered from evil. We pray this prayer of deliverance because (‘for’), ‘Yours is the kingdom.’ God is able to deliver because He rules!”

Although Bruce states in the Foreword that his purpose here is not “to prod you into praying more often or with greater intensity (although that could be a good thing)”, I’m certain that purpose is accomplished more times than not, thankfully. Along with his stated goal: “What it does seek to do is to reach out and grab you in regard to the glory of our Father and the greatness of His kingdom. It seeks to help you understand more of what it means to allow Him to rule in your lives.”

Just as I remembered, Bruce is still very intelligent, still good with words, and still very kind. I’m grateful to connect with him again (even if one-sided this time) through this book.

Here are some more quotes:

At our prayer meetings we were acting as if prayer was entirely about telling God what we wanted. There wasn’t any malice or menace involved; we had just sort of drifted into this. Unless there is great intentionality, I think this is what prayer often becomes because it is the path of least resistance. We pray about what comes most natural to us—telling God what we want.

We seemed to have forgotten that no circumstance is omnipotent. Our Father has the ability to sustain people in any situation. What happened in our intercession often happens in our personal prayers. They end up as negotiating sessions about getting our circumstances changed rather than being expressions of our trust in His power to see us through them.”

* ~ *

“So I ditched the word ‘dependent’ for ‘desperate.’ If someone is desperate for something, they have to have it. They can’t survive without it. The Psalmist says, ‘As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God’ (42:1). We are more than dependent upon God; we are desperate for Him.

 * ~ *

Typically in our speech (if not in our thinking), we reserve the phrase, ‘God answered our prayers,’ for those times when God has brought about the results we desired. We mean well by such a statement. We mean to bring glory to our Father and recognize what He has done. But the truth is that these words can be a poor way of expressing our understanding of prayer as well as God’s work. It can also crush the spirits of others, because it sounds as if we’re saying He hasn’t answered the prayers of those who didn’t get the results they desired. That we mean no such thing isn’t the point.”

 * ~ *

“I think we are to understand that when we submit to Christ, we enter into not just the kingdom (John 3:5), but we take our first step into heaven as well.”

* * *

Praying in the Reign is available here if you’re looking for a deeper meaning behind this model prayer. Or read sample pages here. Bruce provides two or three thought questions at the end of each section, so it would also work well in a group setting. Bruce and his sweet wife Janice can be found in person in Opelika, Alabama, where he is a teaching minister. You can read his blog here.

18 thoughts on “The Lord’s Prayer is more – “Praying in the Reign”

  1. bekahcubed

    That one little snippet: “They end up as negotiating sessions about getting our circumstances changed rather than being expressions of our trust in His power to see us through them” really hits home for me. When I think of some of my persistent requests over the years, I realize how often God withheld my request, refusing to negotiate until I came to trust Him with my desires. So often, I want to approach God as a business partner (“I do this, you do that. You scratch my back, I scratch yours.”) when He wants me to come as a child, completely dependent upon the grace of my Heavenly Father – and with complete trust in His ability to do best with the circumstances I’m in.
    bekahcubed recently posted…Thankful Thursday: Myself AgainMy Profile

  2. Sharon

    I’m gonna check out Bruce’s blog and book. He does sound like a most encouraging and inspiring teacher. Sometimes I get all messed up when I think about prayer. Sometimes I think I look at it backwards – thinking it’s all about me communicating with God. It is that, for sure. But it’s also a time for God to communicate with me. It doesn’t have to be big and lofty, nor long and pious. It’s just two people who dearly love each other seeking conversation and communion. Yup.

    GOD BLESS!
    Sharon recently posted…RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATIONMy Profile

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I love your definition of prayer, Sharon:
      “It’s just two people who dearly love each other seeking conversation and communion.”
      I agree that we get messed up when we forget that it is indeed a conversation, not a one-way soliloquy directed at God. He has much to say back to us if we’ll listen.

      Bruce was always a very good teacher. Very logical yet relatable, two traits I still admire in teachers.
      LisaNotes recently posted…The Lord’s Prayer is more – “Praying in the Reign”My Profile

  3. Ginger Harrington

    How lovely to be link neighbors with you again at Thought Provoking Thursday. I’ve been so busy lately that I’ve not been able to participate much with links, but it is a pleasure to revisit. Love the insights you share from Bruce’s book on prayer. We so often want to default to formula. I think that’s one reason I like to write my prayers for I am less likely to recite the normal litany.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I like to write my prayers occasionally too. And include what I’m hearing back from God. It slows me down enough to pay attention yet keeps me more on track so I get less distracted.

      I love how God arranges the link neighborhood. 🙂 I don’t get around to visit as much as I like either, but I’m always blessed when I visit your blog and hear what you’re up to. Thanks for stopping by, Ginger.
      LisaNotes recently posted…The Lord’s Prayer is more – “Praying in the Reign”My Profile

  4. Barbara H.

    Sounds like a great book. The quote about only saying God answered our prayers when the answer turned out like we wanted resonates with me. Looking back, I have been grateful for those He has answered in the negative, even though it hurt at the time.

    I don’t pray the Lord’s prayer every day, but when my thoughts are especially scattered, it helps to go through it and use each phrase as a jumping off point for further prayer.
    Barbara H. recently posted…Christmas Book GiveawayMy Profile

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      That section really resonated with me too. Having God not answer prayers I’ve wanted has probably taught me as much as when he has answered the way I wanted. It just takes me longer to accept and appreciate the no’s versus the yes’s. 🙂

      The Lord’s Prayer and Psalm 23 are two passages of scripture in particular that never get old to me, no matter how many times I say them. Like you mention, each phrase is a jumping off point for so much more!
      LisaNotes recently posted…The Lord’s Prayer is more – “Praying in the Reign”My Profile

  5. Loren Pinilis

    I love books on prayer. They are always so convicting and inspiring at the same time.
    I was particularly struck by what you said here about God being referred to most often as Father. That’s so amazing. I’m teaching tomorrow on praying for our anxieties and how God cares for us, how he promises to carry our burdens. What a contrast between the gods of so many other religions.


%d bloggers like this: