Most of us have prayed the Lord’s Prayer at one time or another. There is that one line, “Let Your kingdom come, let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. What does that mean for your life or for mine? Are there times that we mindlessly echo the words and either not catch the meaning or never take seriously the meaning?
James is adamant that the values of this world are in direct conflict with the values of the Kingdom that we echo in that prayer. “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God”. (4) Ouch. He chooses to make this an either/or statement, with no option for middle ground.
So why “black and white”? What is so bad about the values of the world? He gave us a snapshot earlier with words such as: polemic, battles, hedonism, warring, lust, murder, jealousy. Or when he states that the wisdom of this world (earthy, unspiritual, demonic) does not mesh with the “wisdom from above”. It’s not that they are just different but that they are completely incompatible with one another. You might say that they are at war since he earlier uses militaristic language.
The Lord’s Prayer is not a feel good prayer. It aligns us with the Scriptures which tells us that “the Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”. What does that mean? Simply that God longs for us to live in His ways and gives the necessary help through the Holy Spirit to do so. If we choose His way (which is what we pray) then He adds on more grace. If we choose not His way then we find ourselves fighting against God (God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble).
But we can’t blame God if we make the wrong choice. In fact we make choices everyday whether we will go this way or that, whether we will live this way or not, whether we will submit to God or not. There is a battle for your soul and the only way to win that battle is by submitting yourself to His will (Let your will be done) or to the devil. Yes, there is a real devil, not just figurative language to explain evil in this world. They are diametrically opposed to one another and the battle ground is for your soul.
So what should you do? James says to “draw near to God and He will draw near to you”. But for James it is more than just a verbal assent. Either you are in or not. The word he uses in vs.8 is “two-souled” or double minded. The word means to believe that one can live in both worlds and be of one mind. He says it won’t work. The only way out is to cleanse our hands and purify our hearts. Both are action words that require a response on our part. It is not a time to party but to take very seriously what state we are in: lament, mourn and weep. “Let your laughter be turn into mourning and your joy into gloom”. These are not words of morbidity but the need to decide where we stand.
If we willingly humble ourselves before God He will lift us up. The converse is true that if we are full of pride He will humble us. If I pray the Lord`s Prayer and seek for answers to my prayers does it not seem logical that I should align myself with the values of that Kingdom?